Fired Reuters Social Media Editor Says He’s Being Threatened

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Twitter / @TheMatthewKeys
Twitter / @TheMatthewKeys

Matthew Keys, the Reuters deputy social media editor suspended last month after he was indicted for allegedly helping Anonymous take over the Los Angeles Times website, learned on Monday the company had fired him. But Reuters did not fire Keys for his alleged involvement with Anonymous, he said. Rather, it fired him for tweeting police scanner traffic during the Boston Marathon bombing suspects' arrest last week, on a stream that identified him as a Reuters employee. Keys and the Newspaper Guild of New York have said he will contest the firing. But now Keys says he's been receiving threats, and they're worded much like the foreboding missives Anonymous likes to toss around.

Keys's account of his conversation with Reuters can be found on his Tumblr. He told Politico's Mackenzie Weinger that his indictment didn't come up during that phone call but that "they did, however, repeatedly make mention that I had been suspended." His conclusion: "I assume they were looking for an out."

Now that Keys has been cut loose, choruses of both criticism and support have found him on (where else?) Twitter. But the private messages Keys has been getting have been more aggressive, if also a bit cryptic. He tweeted on Monday night that he'd turned his phone off because he'd been receiving threatening calls. Keys declined to talk about the calls and messages with Daily Intelligencer, but he did post a couple screenshots of texts to his Twitter stream.

The threats inherent in those messages seem like they could be directed at Keys or at Reuters (or both). But they include hallmarks of Anonymous. "Expect us" is a common refrain in the loose-knit hacker collective's myriad threatening videos and messages. DDoS refers to a distributed denial of service attack, which Anonymous frequently uses to take down websites by overloading them with traffic. Another attack popular with the hacker network is the DOX, wherein they release the target's personal information online, as with NYPD pepper spray cop Anthony Bologna.

Keys plans to fight his firing with the help of the Newspaper Guild, whose secretary-treasurer Peter Szekely told Weinger, "We don’t believe the company has the required justification here." Meanwhile, he's making his own case on social media, and hearing loudly about it from all sides. Reuters' coverage notes that Keys's arraignment is scheduled for Tuesday.

*This post has been updated to reflect that Keys spoke to Mackenzie Weinner at Politico, not Dylan Byers, as had originally been reported.