Man arrested for not tweeting to teeming tween tumult

A record-company executive has been arrested and charged for failing to send a tweet that may have calmed 3,000 rioting pre-adolescent girls

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
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A record-company executive has been arrested and charged for refusing to tweet. James A Roppo, pictured right, was asked to post a message to Twitter to calm unruly fans of Canadian dream tween Justin Bieber, pictured left, oh hang on. We hadn't heard of him either, but clearly the kids love him. Not so much the cops. Is this pointing to a new zero-tolerance approach to social media?

The 15-year-old from Ontario, Canada, released his first album this week. The pint-sized popster, who plays at Wembley Arena tonight with something called a Taylor Swift, was due to make an appearance at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City, Long Island, New York. Three thousand people turned up, mostly pre-adolescent girls, and you know what they're like.

Here's a local news report on the hormonal hurly-burly. Look out for the utterly lost-looking mall cop, presumably wrestled from his Segway just moments later, and the angry mom who thinks it's more important that she drove three hours than it is that five people ended up in hospital.

Roppo, senior vice president of Island Def Jam Records, was asked by police to send a tweet saying the event had been cancelled. He refused, and was charged with -- get this -- felony assault, as well as endangering the welfare of a child, obstruction of governmental administration, reckless endangerment and criminal nuisance. He has since pleaded not guilty.

At first we thought hassling Bieber and his entourage was a waste of police time. We wondered at first how many of the kids would bother to check Twitter, but apparently rumours were flying through the crowd fuelled by Twitter gossip. How many of those kids would be following a 44-year-old record exec is unclear, unless police wanted Bieber himself to send the message and Roppo interceded. Even if his intervention could have helped, the charges sound like some major buck-passing from the failed crowd-controllers.

Then we saw this video and realised the correct response would have been to punt the whey-faced little Bieber off the mezzanine and let the crowd have him. They'd eat him alive.

Just last week, one lucky chap used his Facebook status to provide police with an alibi. In fact, let's have more police intervention in social media. Taser anyone who insults Stephen Fry, baton-charge anyone retweeting wrong, and a faceplant down the stairs back at the nick for anyone who invites us to join their Mafia family. Prison's too good for anyone who sends us those bloody quizzes or tags us in Facebook pictures after the fifth tequila.

And it's the chair for anyone who uses the phrase 'social media'.