Swatting: The rise of a deadly internet prank | The Stream

Summary

Melina Abdullah was at home on a typical August evening when she realised heavily-armed police had gathered outside her house in Los Angeles as a helicopter hovered above. The prominent Black Lives Matter activist was, according to police, the victim […]



Melina Abdullah was at home on a typical August evening when she realised heavily-armed police had gathered outside her house in Los Angeles as a helicopter hovered above. The prominent Black Lives Matter activist was, according to police, the victim of a prank known as "swatting", which involves falsely reporting to emergency services that an armed response is necessary at a particular address. Abdullah live streamed the encounter on Instagram. And it was in the world of live streaming where swatting first came to attention as sometimes feuding gamers took to sending SWAT teams to each other's houses while streaming on sites such as Twitch. The prank, though, can turn deadly. Last year, a California man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a swatting that resulted in police killing 28-year-old Andrew Finch on his doorstep, in an incident rooted in gaming disputes. Examples such as that of Melina Abdullah, though, highlight that the practice has transcended gaming and is now being weaponised against activists and political opponents. There is particular concern that people of colour are more at risk of death or serious harm should armed police be called to their homes or workplaces. In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by Abdullah and a panel of law enforcement experts to discuss the politicisation of swatting and to ask what police can do to combat it. Join the conversation:
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