Big Brother has come to Azeroth. An Indiana resident has been contacted by authorities over comments made in the popular online game World of Warcraft. The 18-year-old typed multiple “threats” that he “was going to board a plane at 7:30 to Chicago and that (he) as going to try and kill as many Americans as possible.” The Indy Star reports:
A Johnson County man who told investigators that he was merely testing a theory could face federal charges after he told deputies he threatened to blow up a commercial airliner.
The 18-year-old, who lives in the 4000 block of Ridgemere Drive, Greenwood, told Johnson County deputies that he was playing a popular online role-playing game early Monday morning when he issued a threat that he “was going to board a plane at 7:30 to Chicago and that (he) was going to try and kill as many Americans as possible,” according to an incident report from the sheriff’s department.
A facilitator with an online gaming center alerted authorities after she noticed several messages from the man, who was playing “World of Warcraft,” threatening to blow up an airliner.
The man, who originally told investigators that someone had hacked into his computer, admitted he jokingly made the threats, which did not name a specific airline, because he had heard that merely doing so would bring police to his house, “but I didn’t really believe it,” he said in a written statement.
A representative from Blizzard Entertainment, the online gaming site, would not disclose the exact content of the chat logs to investigators without a subpoena, but she said the logs seemed “very serious” and did not seem like jokes.
The man’s computer was seized as evidence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations, which took over the investigation, could file charges with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to the affidavit.
Some might suggest that this is further evidence of America’s hypersensitivity to security issues. It’s telling that we’re now at the point where the FBI investigates teenagers who post inflammatory comments in online games. Admittedly, it’s not always easy to know where to draw the line between security and civil rights. Quite frankly, I’ve seen people say much worse (and more realistic) comments in online games. Under a different gaming center facilitator, this kid would merely been dismissed as a troll. I’d imagine the FBI can pretty quickly determine whether this individual had undergone any real planning towards carrying out the “threats” (i.e. plane tickets, weapons, etc.). But should the FBI really be involved in this at all? Couldn’t local law enforcement sufficiently handle this investigation?
Regardless of the outcome of this particular matter, here’s the bottom line…be careful what you say online because people ARE listening.