Thousands of people have posted to Twitter 'threats' to blow up Doncaster's Robin Hood airport, in a campaign to satirise a judge's decision that the original such Twitter message was genuinely menacing.
At the start of this year, trainee accountant Paul Chambers sent the following tweet to a woman he wanted to fly to Northern Ireland to meet in person: "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" After an airport employee found his tweet, Chambers was fined £1,000 under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, a law that makes it an offence to menace someone over a communications network.
Chambers's appeal began in September, and he was told on Thursday that his appeal had failed. He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs, although the celebrity Stephen Fry has offered to pay his fine and fees. Later on Thursday, Twitter user @christt tweeted that "we should all tweet Paul Chambers' original joke, Spartacus style".
Late on Friday, thousands of word-for-word retweets of Chambers's illegal message had been made, and #iamspartacus was the second-top trending topic on Twitter worldwide. The case has led to widespread discussion in the media, as has that of Gareth Compton, a Tory councillor who was arrested on Thursday for another tweet intended as a joke. Compton had ostensibly called for the stoning of journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.