Submitted by Charlton (Chuck) Stanley, Weekend Contributor
This piece could easily have been titled, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis (below, left) discovers the Streisand Effect.
The same might be said of Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard. Sometime in February or early March, the Twitter account @Peoriamayor was created, with a picture and fake bio of Mayor Ardis. On or about March 10, the account was labeled a parody, clarifying that it was not really Jim Ardis’ account. That did not deter Ardis, who appears to be as thin-skinned as any politician we have seen recently. He recruited Police Chief Settingsgaard to track down whoever was behind the parody Twitter account.
Over a period of three weeks, detectives from the Peoria Police Department conducted an intensive internet manhunt for the person or persons responsible for the Twitter account. On March 14, Judge Kirk Schoebein signed a warrant ordering Twitter to turn over account information to the Peoria police. The information was released to the police, and on March 29, Judge Lisa Wilson approved a warrant to Comcast to locate the user who owned the Twitter account. Jacob Elliot, who lives on North University Street, was identified as the owner of the account. On April 15, Circuit Judge Kim Kelly of the Tenth Judicial District of Illinois approved a search warrant on Elliot’s home. The warrant was executed on April 17.
A half dozen officers from the Police Department raided Jacob Elliot’s home in Peoria. Police Chief Settingsgaard claimed that by setting up the fake Twitter account, Elliot was “impersonating a public official.” Twitter deleted the account @Peoriamyor when they got the warrant for information in March, saying their Terms of Service were violated.
What could possibly go wrong?
Elliot’s parody Twitter account lasted about a month or less before it was taken down. He had made a total of about fifty tweets, and just a handful of subscribers. In the tweets, he compared Ardis to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. As soon as news of the raid and arrests hit social media sites, in just the past couple of days new parody sites, such as Not Jim Ardis, have popped up like mushrooms after a spring rain. Mayor Ardis, meet the Streisand Effect.
Note that in the warrant, there is authorization to search for drugs as well as computer and telecommunications equipment. Elliot was arrested for having marijuana at his home, but nothing was in his booking report about his parody site. This is another example of using drug laws to go after someone where there is an almost 100% chance of the charges being thrown out on Constitutional grounds. His girlfriend was in the shower when the police came. One other friend was at the house. All three were taken to the police station and questioned, but only Elliot was arrested.
I have a whole lecture on the Law of Unintended Consequences. I had never heard of Jim Ardis or Chief Settingsgaard before yesterday. Now, the story is spreading on the Internet and millions of others who never heard of him either know his name and picture. Mayor Ardis managed to throw gasoline on a spark that was about to die of its own accord.
Peoria Journal Star
The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not necessarily those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art is solely the author’s decision and responsibility.