11Daily Links Round-Up: Elmore Leonard Dies, Olivia Munn, JJ Abrams Teaser, Twitter Gets Hacked and More
After boasting about speeding on Twitter, an 18-year-old who is accused of killing a bicyclist with his car had his vehicular manslaughter charge upgraded to murder. Cody Hall is now being held without bail after being charged with the murder of 58-year-old Diana Hersevoort.
Hall was going more than 80 mph in a 40 mph zone when he hit Hersevoort and her husband. Hersevoort's husband only broke an arm, but she was killed, Fox News reported.
Prosecutors were persuaded to upgrade Hall’s charge to murder after analyzing his driving record and Twitter posts.
According to Brian Welch, a supervisor of the homicide unit at the Santa Clara County district attorney's office, suspects are typically charged with murder when they are recklessly fleeing police or when they are drunk. He said it is unusual to have Twitter play a factor in murder charges.
"The challenge in these situations is proving that your defendant is the person who posted the statement," said Welch.
A gay rights group in France has filed a complaint against Twitter for inciting hatred on its French site when the hashtags “gays must disappear” and “let’s burn gays” began trending last weekend.
Felicite-Esther Zeifman, attorney for the French committee of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), told the AFP the suit against Twitter is for “diffusion of a call for hatred against gay people.”
“These illicit tweets on Twitter’s site characterize the offense of public incitement to discrimination, to hatred or national, racial or religious violence,” the complaint said. “Despite alerts, Twitter allowed a homophobic atmosphere to develop on the social network and gave no serious response.”
Alexandre Marcel of IDAHO said Twitter did not delete a single homophobic tweet or hashtag from the site.
The French ministers for women’s rights and the digital economy released a joint statement Monday condemning Twitter.
“Incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence towards a person or group of people because of where they come from, their religion or their sexual orientation is against French law. These acts or words are punishable by law and the fact that they were delivered virtually does not make the people behind them any less punishable,” Najat Vallaud-Belkacem and Fleur Pellerin said in a statement.
Del Harvey, head of safety for twitter, wrote from his account @delbius: “Twitter conforms to the laws of the countries in which it is present but does not proactively survey or filter content. If content is flagged as violating Twitter rules it will be checked and dealt with accordingly.”
Twitter gave data to the French authorities in July to help they identify Twitter users responsible for anti-Semitic tweets. Just what authorities do with that data is unclear, since anti-Semitism per se isn’t illegal in France.
“Let’s burn gays” was reportedly still trending on Monday. The hashtag was later removed, but homophobic tweets still appeared on the site.
Twitter recently added a “Report Abuse” button to its social media platform after women received rape and death threats on the site.
Calling himself a “hypocrite” and saying that he feels “set free by disease and disgrace,” Pasadena City College’s Professor of Porn, Hugo Schwyzer, now says he is on medical leave following what appeared to be a public nervous breakdown on Twitter last Friday.
Schwyzer, 46 and married, has become a popular figure online and in the media, as well as in academia, as a “male feminist” and teacher of a college course he titled “Navigating Pornography.” The popular course was the subject of controversy earlier this year when Schwyzer said that he would open a guest lecture by porn actor James Deen to the general public.
In his rant that consisted of about 100 tweets before, Schwyzer said, he surrendered his laptop to his family and checked into the hospital, the professor admitted to an extramarital affair with a 23 year old, though in his capacity as a “male feminist” he has strongly advocated that men date women in their own age range.
He confessed in one tweet to having sex with pornographic performers he met through teaching his academic class on porn.
He also declared that he built his academic career fraudulently, saying that he has no qualifications or training in the topic of women’s studies beyond two undergraduate courses and has never published an academic paper in the field. His actual training, he says, is in “British medieval church history.”
The porn prof’s online freakout was set off when sexually oriented text messages he’d been exchanging with 27-year-old pornographic actress Christina Parreira began appearing on social media sites. According to Parreira, Schwyzer fantasized about having three-way sex with her and Deen in his classroom as his “Navigating Pornography” students watched.
A spokesman for Pasadena City College, Juan Gutierrez, said the school was unaware that Schwyzer had taken medical leave and expected him to be teaching in the fall semester.
“Should professor Schwyzer indicate that he is in need of any support from the college regarding this situation or health issues, we will extend that support in any way possible,” Gutierrez said.
A mother and jam maker in England tweeted for help instead of calling authorities when she found herself trapped inside a church Sunday.
Sarah Greep, 43, was locked in St. Andrew’s Church in Plymouth after its morning service, but she said she did not want to disturb other families by calling for help, according to MSN Now.
"But it was a lovely day outside, I thought most people would be out enjoying the weather. I didn't want to bother anyone so I just started tweeting,” Greep said in a video she took of herself inside the church.
Greep remained in high spirits while in the church, claiming that she there were many worse places to be trapped and that she did not mind her current location, according to The Independent.
"It's not that bad here anyway," she said. "I quite like it. It's nice and peaceful. There are lots of things to look at, lots of things to read."
Not wanting to draw much attention to her predicament, Greep waited on calling authorities and instead tried to contact a few church volunteers. She also tweeted about her situation.
"Trying to think of best way to get out of this church with minimum disruption,” she tweeted. “It's quite calm & peaceful in here so in no hurry #Plymouth."
Local police saw her tweets and eventually found a warden who had a spare key to the church to free Greep.
If police hadn’t noted Greep’s twitter, she would have likely been stuck in the church until the next service at 6:30 p.m.
Outspoken atheist and scientist Richard Dawkins came under intense Twitter scrutiny after his recent posts regarding Muslim contributions to the science world.
The social media frenzy began on Aug. 8 when Dawkins tweeted, “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”
The tweet elicited a barrage of criticism from the Twitter world with a number of high-profile Twitter users expressing their disgust with his statement that appeared to suggest that Muslims had contributed nothing to science since the Middle Ages.
Dawkins responded by defending his remarks, with tweets such as “Interesting concept: a simple statement of undeniable FACT can be offensive. Other examples where facts should be hidden because offensive?” And further, “A statement of simple fact is not bigotry. And science by Muslims was great in the distant past.”
Dawkins’ comments prompted writer Caitlin Moran to respond, “Think it’s time someone turned Richard Dawkins off and then on again,” and Channel 4 News Economics Editor Faisal Islam to state, “Actually, over the last two decades, it’s 8-4 against Trinity. I say this as a Muslim alumnus of Trinity College, Cambridge.” Islam went on to further question Dawkins’ “spurious use of data.”
After one Twitter user cited Muslim responsibility for the development of alchemy and algebra, Dawkins sarcastically replied, “Indeed, where would we be without alchemy? Dark Age achievements undoubted. But since then?”
This is certainly not the first time Dawkins, author of the 2006 bestseller "The God Delusion," has come under public scrutiny for his beliefs about religion and, specifically, Islam. In the past, the atheist scientist has labeled religion as “a betrayal of the intellect” and “a betrayal of all that’s best about what makes us human.” In 2012, he described his Catholic upbringing as “worse than child abuse;” in 2010, Dawkins said he felt a “visceral revulsion” upon seeing a woman dressed in a burka. His outspoken contempt for religion has made him no stranger to outrage over his personal beliefs.
Twitter users are going to have to begin to monitor what they say a little bit more closely because the popular social media site is instituting new rules designed to help control abusive language. The decision was prompted by a string of harassing and threatening messages directed at high-profile female users of the site. A new one-click button to report abuse will soon be implemented and the company is also updating its rules to help clarify what constitutes abusive behavior.
The Senior Director of Trust and Safety, Del Harvey and UK General Manager Tony Wang wrote a blog post about the issue.
“It comes down to this: people deserve to feel safe on Twitter.
Over the past week, we've been listening to your feedback on how we can improve our service. You told us that we need to make our rules clearer, simplify our abuse reporting process, and promote the responsible use of Twitter.”
The post concludes:
“We are committed to making Twitter a safe place for our users. We are adding additional staff to the teams that handle abuse reports and are exploring new ways of using technology to improve everyone’s experience on Twitter. We’re here, and we’re listening to you.”
The one-click button means that users will no longer have to navigate through Twitter’s cumbersome help center to file a complaint.
Wang issued his own apology "to the women who have experienced abuse on Twitter and for what they have gone through," through his own personal account, The Huffington Post reported.
"The abuse they've received is simply not acceptable," he said. "It's not acceptable in the real world, and it's not acceptable on Twitter. There is more we can and will be doing to protect our users against abuse. That is our commitment."
The new anti-abuse policy will apply worldwide.
In an attempt to grant indulgences to Catholics around the world, the Vatican has offered them to anyone following Pope Francis’ tweets during the Catholic World Youth Day.
Indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins. By attending the Youth Day, or piously following Pope Francis’ tweets and Pinterest posts, the Vatican hopes to produce “spiritual fruit” in the hearts of a greater audience and increase indulgences.
“You can't obtain indulgences like getting a coffee from a vending machine," Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, warned.
Rather, indulgences granted through Twitter are a way for those who cannot fly to Brazil for the festival to earn forgiveness.
“You must be following the events live,” a penitentiary source said, recommending prayer with the day’s festivities. “It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the Internet.”
World Youth Day brings cultures from around the world together and cultural tolerance is commonly exhibited. Young Catholic pilgrims exchange flags, crosses and other religious icons in appreciation of one another.
Some say the Youth Day has the atmosphere of a world rock concert.
Indulgences fell out of popularity in the Middle Ages when corrupt churchmen sold them instead of exchanging them for good deeds. They were a contributing factor to the formation of the Presbyterian Church, in which followers believed they had a direct connection to God without the aid of a priest.
Pope Francis can be followed @Pontifex on Twitter.
A Chicago-area teen is facing felony charges after he threatened to commit "mass homicide" if George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder charges in the Trayvon Martin case. The teen is a sophomore at Zion Benton High School in Zion, Ill., a suburb about 50 miles away from Chicago.
Prior to a verdict being reached in the case, the teen tweeted: "If Zimmerman leaves free imma shoot everybody in Zion causing a mass homicide, and ill get away wit it just like Zimmerman."
The tweet has since been deleted.
Savvy social media users reported the post to the FBI and to the Zion Police Department, according to The Huffington Post.
Zion Police Department Deputy Chief Steve Dumyahn said there was no credibility to the threat and that the teen "has no weapons and no access to weapons.” That does not change the fact that the young man is still being charged with a felony count of disorderly conduct.
The teen later tried to play his tweet off as a joke.
"I WAS JOKING SEE U JUST SAID I SHOULDNT JOKE SO THERE WAS NOO NEED FOR U TO REPORT ME," he wrote.
The teen's name has not been released because of his age.
George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin, and the decision has sparked outrage in some communities across America. Many feared that there would be riots, but instead of taking anger out on store fronts, at least one Trayvon Martin supporter has allegedly targeted animals.
At 6:38 a.m. on Sunday, a tweet went out from Tevon D’Sean Jackon that read, "RIOT4TRAYVON #JusticeForTrayvon OH SHIEETT.. TYRONE JUST BURNED THIS CAT.. WE CALLED HIM GEORGE AND BURNED HIM ALIVE.”
The tweet also includes a picture of the burned cat, which can be found below. Fair warning: the picture is somewhat graphic, but it is grainy enough that it is difficult to tell that it is even a cat at all. We featured it below.
The tweet has unsurprisingly sparked outrage from the Internet community. One user wrote, “you're a worthless human piece of trash. Killing a cat to make a point literally makes you worse than the man you say is guilty.”
Another added, “ignorant piece of trash. Zimmerman should have popped you too.”
However, it is entirely possible that it’s all a big hoax in order to drum up drama. Tevon D’Sean Jackson’s current tweet reads, “#GNAA Vice President ~ #RIOT4TRAYVON #EDLRAPECREW, #cut4bieber, #SANDYLOOTCREW & #londonriots Celebrity.. proud /pol/ack.” The GNAA is the Gay N*gger Association of America, which is an anti-blogging trolling organization.
Of course, it is difficult to tell whether or not that really is a cat in the picture. Either way, it had its intended effect. Jackson’s Twitter page is filled with hundreds of angry tweets from other Internet users.
What are your thoughts? Does that picture of possible animal cruelty warrant an investigation from authorities, or is this just another example of Internet trolls adding fuel to the fire?