When do social network threats become offline security issues? That question is at the heart of a heated and vulgar Twitter exchange between pop singer Chris Brown and the writer and comedian Jenny Johnson.
Brown, you’ll surely recall, is perhaps best known for beating up his girlfriend, Rihanna.
Over the weekend Brown went back and forth with Johnson on Twitter. Things went so far off the rails so quickly for Brown that last night he deleted his Twitter account.
Here’s how the exchange began:
I know! Being a worthless piece of shit can really age a person. RT @chrisbrown: I look old as fuck! I’m only 23…
— Jenny Johnson (@JennyJohnsonHi5) November 25, 2012
Within hours of that tweet Brown was off Twitter and Johnson was reporting a deluge of death threats:
It’s alarming how many death threats I’m receiving via @ replies. I encourage everyone, including @twitter to look through them. Not cool.
— Jenny Johnson (@JennyJohnsonHi5) November 26, 2012
Fast Company emailed the author and photographer Paul Mutton, listed on Twitter as a “White Hat” who helps keep the site safe, to ask what Twitter protocol is when death threats are sent over the network to users.
“Twitter would certainly be entitled to suspend accounts that have been sending death threats, as this would constitute a violation of their terms of service,” Mutton emailed. “However, given the vast number of Twitter users, I suspect this would only happen if a complaint is submitted via https://support.twitter.com/forms/abusiveuser.”
We’ve tweeted to Johnson to find out if she’s filed a formal complaint with Twitter and will update this post if we hear from her.
Meantime, many Twitter users have already weighed in with their own verdicts: