These two tweets alone by @ConfortablySmug (now known to be Shashank Tripathi, campaign manager for Republican Congressional Candidate Christopher Wight) were retweeted more than 500 times and were adopted as true by various media outlets across the nation, understandably causing varying degrees of panic before these and other similar tweets were debunked.
Now, at least one city councilman, is calling for criminal charges to be filed against Mr. Tripathi. Peter Vallone, Jr., a former District Attorney, has asked Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to look into filing criminal charges. While Mr. Vallone has admitted that it will be a difficult case to make, his intent is that the consideration of criminal charges will deter others from tweeting or otherwise dispersing false information in these types of situations in the future.
Supporting his position, Mr. Vallone noted the example of shouting ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie theater.
Darin Klemchuk, senior partner at Klemchuk Kubasta LLP, notes, “finding its origin in Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s opinion in Schenck v. United States, ‘falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater’ was interpreted not to be protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court’s decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio later limited the scope of banned speech to that which would directed to and likely to incite imminent lawless action.”
“No matter what happens, this certainly represents the necessity for social media users to be mindful of what they post,” remarks Klemchuk.
About Darin Klemchuk:
Darin Klemchuk is co-founder and managing partner of Klemchuk Kubasta LLP, a Dallas-based IP boutique law firm that offers comprehensive intellectual property legal services, including litigation and enforcement of all forms of intellectual property as well as registration and licensing of patents, trademarks, trade dress and copyrights. To contact Mr. Klemchuk, email him at darin.klemchuk@
About Klemchuk Kubasta LLP:
Based in Dallas, Texas, Klemchuk Kubasta LLP is an IP boutique law firm that offers comprehensive intellectual property legal services, including litigation and enforcement of all forms of intellectual property as well as registration and licensing of patents, trademarks, trade dress, and copyrights. The firm also provides legal services relating to domain names, e-commerce, privacy policies, social media, Internet law, commercial and business litigation, technology transactions, and international business & trade. Additional information about the firm and its attorneys may be found at www.kk-llp.com.