This weekend, a teenager* directed a stupid terrorism joke at an airline's Twitter account. In return, the airline promised to send the FBI after the teenager. The teenager freaked out. That short exchange was retweeted over 30,000 times.
It's easy to see why that was popular -- it was a very compressed and easy to understand story about human idiocy. And it seemed like catnip for news-y internet sites, a la the Justine Sacco story last December.
I was a little dismayed, and went to bed last night formulating a post for this morning about how stories like this one shouldn't be reported by online news outlets. After all, teenagers say stupid things to get attention all the time, and it doesn't seem fair to rouse a digital mob on a teenager for a single tweet.
But this morning, I woke up to find that news outlets had mostly exercised restraint. I know that journalists saw the tweet (I could tell because many of them followed the teenager's Twitter account). And a few tabloids in the UK wrote about it. But besides that, the internet's collective news judgement mostly seemed to agree that this wasn't a real story, and that it wasn't worth chasing a little outrage traffic at the expense of some teenager's sanity. Good job internet! And happy Monday, everybody.
PS. On Twitter, Mike Masnick points out that it's very possible the "teenager" isn't actually a teenager, but just a Twitter troll pretending to be one. Which actually makes me even happier that most people took a pass on this.