A Maryland man who sent a tweet has been charged by the Dallas District Attorney for the crime of assault with a deadly weapon. The charge comes with a hate crime enhancement.
John Rivello sent out a tweet which sent the recipient into a seizure. He allegedly sent an animated image called a GIF, to Newsweek writer Kurt Eichenwald, which was designed to trigger seizures in epileptic people. The tweet came with the caption, “you deserve a seizure.”
According to the Daily Caller,
Eichenwald’s wife subsequently tweeted that the GIF had indeed caused Eichenwald to have a seizure. The federal criminal complaint says that a direct message from Rivello’s alleged account, “Ari Goldstein” or “@jew_goldstein,” to another account said he hopes that the GIF “sends” Eichenwald “into a seizure.”
Rivello was tracked down and arrested by the FBI for the tweet, in line with a federal law against using electronic communication with the intent to harm or kill another person. The hate crime enhancement was added due to the apparent anti-semitic bias of the suspect.
This is the first case in which an individual has been arresting for an internet message which directly contributed to the physical harm of somebody.