Diet guru booted from Carnival ship over fake tweet

ByABC News
May 9, 2012, 9:27 AM

— -- Nashville neurosurgeon Jack Kruse says he's the victim of cyber sabotage.

Kruse was scheduled as a guest speaker Monday for Jimmy Moore's 5th Annual Low-Carb Cruise on the Carnival Magic out of Galveston, Texas.

But before the ship departed Sunday afternoon, the cruise line learned of a Twitter message from an account containing quotes allegedly from Kruse.

The account — @s…krusesays, which contains an expletive — contained messages claiming Kruse had a "vial of Legionnaires for epic biohack." The Twitter account has since been disabled.

When Carnival learned of the tweet, it contacted authorities, and Galveston police, the FBI and U.S. Coast Guard boarded the ship to investigate.

Authorities searched Kruse's bags, questioned him and asked him to disembark the ship while they investigated. Kruse said authorities quickly learned he wasn't behind the tweets. But he wasn't let back on the ship.

In addition to the tweet, Kruse said someone named Lance emailed Carnival warning that a doctor was on the ship and going to conduct a bio attack.

"It was just a nightmare what happened," Kruse said by telephone Monday from Nashville.

Kruse has a following at and speaks about diet and weight loss. He once weighed more than 350 pounds, he said. Kruse speaks about Leptin reset and cold thermogenesis, a type of treatment that uses cold temperatures to facilitate weight loss.

Kruse said he believes those who disagree with him are behind the anonymous Twitter account.

"These were all people who had competing thoughts about diet and exercise. This created a huge logistical nightmare," Kruse said. "To make a joke about something like this is not a good thing to do. Not only is it unprofessional and unethical, it's quite dangerous these days."

A spokeswoman for the FBI in Houston declined to comment on Monday.

In a statement Tuesday, Carnival acknowledged the incident and has offered to fly Kruse to the ship's next port of call.

"Since the safety and well-being of our guests and crew is paramount, every security threat is taken seriously and fully investigated," the statement read. "Since the investigation was ongoing at the point the ship needed to depart, it was in the best interest of all guests and crew to err on the side of caution and not allow him to sail.

"Subsequently, the FBI was able to confirm that Dr. Kruse was not responsible for the threatening Twitter message and Dr. Kruse was offered the option of flying to the ship's next port of call at Carnival's expense to re-join the voyage," according to the statement.

Kruse said he did not take Carnival up on its offer, since he was scheduled to speak Monday and already missed his lecture. He did praise Carnival for reading a letter to the more than 300 guests attending the low-carb event informing them why he was absent.

Providers criticized

Chris Slobogin, a Vanderbilt law professor who has written about privacy issues, said users of social media can fall victim to an online hoax.

"I think it's incumbent upon those who run such services to set up ways of preventing this misuse of communication services," he said.

Slobogin said Twitter could demand some type of identification before letting someone sign up.

"That's what we do in a lot of other areas," he said. "Do not allow a person to use a service until they verify they are who they say they are."

Slobogin said hoax victims could also deter misuse of Twitter and other services by suing the culprits.

Staff writer Nicole Young contributed to this report.

Contact Duane W. Gang at 615-726-5982 or Follow him on Twitter @duanegang.