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Social media interactions can result in criminal charges

The proliferation of the internet and social media has been good for many things. It puts the entirety of human knowledge at our finger tips; it allows us to interact with people on the other side of the world; and it makes collaboration and the development of new ideas simpler and easier. But there is a side effect to this interactivity: It is far too easy for people to say incriminating things that may not mean, or for other people to take a Facebook status update or a Twitter message the wrong way. This can result in the person making the comments facing charges for computer-related crimes — often serious ones that will forever change their life. Our source article focuses on recent incidents involving death threats made against the president. Numerous people have posted on Twitter that they would “assassinate” or “kill” the president, or insinuated such a claim. There are special departments that investigate such online claims, and many people have been jailed because of what they said. Now is it stupid for anyone to make such statements on Twitter? Of course. No one should make death threats or other inflammatory comments online — not just because of the possible legal ramifications of such an act, but because it is a silly, stupid and unconstructive way to vent frustration. However, do such interactions warrant serious jail time? In this regard, we enter a gray area. Threatening the president’s life is very serious — but some of the accused people in our source article are adamant that their online claims were simply jokes. One person was sentenced to a year in jail over a Twitter death threat against the president. Social media sites make it easy for anyone to say something quickly, and for the whole world to see it. It also makes everyone a possible target for criminal charges, should they say the wrong things. Be careful what you post online.

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