Kumamoto police have apprehended a prankster responsible for falsely tweeting about (and providing a false image of) an “escaped lion” during the aftermath of the prefecture’s devastating earthquakes back in April, a rather drastic punishment that has many questioning why the authorities would utilize the internet as a means of locating potential emergencies.
The 20-year-old electrical worker was arrested on the grounds of “fraudulently interfering with the duties of zoo workers“, admitting that he wrote the tweet with the intent to “shock people” – and it did indeed earn him his 5 minutes of fame as the message was retweeted over 20,000 times in a single hour.
The false image present in the tweet, which apparently originates from a movie:
A statement from police had revealed the incident was the first ever to use the “fraudulent interference” charge to arrest a person spreadin false information online during a disaster, a fact that many are naturally having various difficulties with.
While the “prank” seemed to be relatively harmless, the widespread notoriety of the tweet had caused the staff at the Kumamoto Zoo and Botanical Gardens to deal with over 100 phone calls regarding the non-existent lion – a significant hindrance to their efforts in minimizing the side-effects of the earthquakes.