British tourists detained, barred from U.S. after tweet about “destroying America”

Two British tourists were detained and barred from entering the U.S. after the Department of Homeland Security flagged one of them for joking to “destroy America” and to dig up Marilyn Monroe’s grave on Twitter.

British citizens Leigh Van Bryan (pictured, middle) and his friend Emily Bunting recently flew to Los Angeles for a holiday trip and instead were interrogated for five hours and locked up over night, according to The Sun newspaper.

Bryan told The Sun that he and his friend were treated like terrorists for quipping on social media. In the the U.K., “destroying” is slang for partying. And Bryan’s tweet about “diggin’ Marilyn Monroe up” is a reference to the TV show Family Guy.

The incident shows how next-generation law enforcement, where government agents monitor social networks for criminal activity, can go horribly astray. Like something out of Minority Report, the government admitted last week that it planned to take its social media monitoring to a new level by creating a tool that crawls Twitter, Facebook, and other networks to catch more crimes before they happen. But with the government’s over-reaction in this latest incident, perhaps it should reconsider.

Bryan and his friend were detained in separate cells overnight after being questioned, and Bryan shared a cell with suspected drug dealers. The two were put on a return flight to the U.K. the next morning. In a smart move, Bryan has since switched his Twitter profile to private.

You can see Bryan’s offending tweets and the official report by Homeland Security below:

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