It's amazing the kind of trouble you can get into with 140 characters or less.
On Tuesday at 1:07 p.m., someone gained unauthorized access to the Associated Press's Twitter account to report that President Barack Obama had been injured in a pair of explosions at the White House. The news was fake, but the momentary panic and legal aftershocks are both very real.
(Read More: Markets Plunge Briefly on Fake AP Terror Tweet)
"Hacking in [to @AP's account] and sending out a tweet [of this nature] is a federal crime," said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham Law School professor.
While the hacking act itself is a clear-cut violation of law, the content of the message itself could also be interpreted as designed to incite panic or lawless action, which some constitutional lawyers said could also be viewed as illegal and possibly criminal.
"In this case, it's very much like screaming fire in a theater," Reidenberg said. "Making a statement designed to incite panic: Does it create an imminent public danger? The answer is probably yes given the nature of the message."