Weaponized Twitter: Terror in 140 Characters or Less

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When a Texas grand jury this week indicted the man accused of causing journalist Kurt Eichenwald to have a seizure, experts said it was perhaps the first time that a type of electronic communication has been classified as “a deadly weapon” in a physical assault case.

John Rayne Rivello is accused of sending a tweet with a GIF file containing a strobe light to Eichenwald, who suffers from epilepsy. After opening the image, Eichenwald said he immediately suffered a seizure. Rivello was arrested by the FBI on March 17 and indicted by the grand jury and by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday.

Jennifer Golbeck, director of the Social Intelligence Lab at the University of Maryland, and Andrea Matwyshyn, an affiliate scholar of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, appeared on Knowledge@Wharton’s SiriusXM show recently to discuss the case and its wider implications.

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