LAS VEGAS – Conservative bloggers are on heightened alert following a string of so-called "SWAT-ing" incidents and are taking precautionary measures to ensure they don't fall victim to the potentially dangerous prank as the political blogosphere prepares for a heated election season.
"SWAT-ing" refers to a hoax in which an anonymous prankster falsely reports a violent crime at an unsuspecting person's home, prompting a police team to respond to the location believing a dangerous situation is at hand.
The illegal practice has in recent months targeted well-known conservative writers and commentators, including Erick Erickson, founder of the blog RedState.com -- who claims he was eating dinner with his family in May when a SWAT team surrounded his home following such a false 911 call.
The growing trend, which some say could one day prove deadly, had conservatives on edge at the annual RightOnline conference of right-wing bloggers and activists in Las Vegas this weekend.
"What they're clearly trying to do is dampen down free speech, but it goes beyond that -- it's putting people's physical safety in jeopardy," said Ali Akbar, who heads a group called the National Bloggers Club made up of conservative online writers.