Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the role that social media is playing in the criminal justice system. Since it was launched in 2004, Facebook has become a valuable source of evidence for law enforcement agencies in solving various crimes, including theft, drug possession and vandalism.

In several cases, those who committed the crimes were only arrested because they couldn’t resist sharing the details on their Facebook page. It should go without saying that this is not an intelligent approach to criminal defense.

Facebook is a good platform for the average person to express his or her feelings, but individuals may find themselves in legal trouble if the words they post could be interpreted as a threat. In July of 2012, a Texas man was arrested before he had a chance to attend his 20-year high school reunion. Apparently the victim of much bullying and tormenting by his classmates in high school, he posted that he was “still seeking vengeance” for those wrongs and that given the chance, he “would have started the Columbine shootings early.”

Posting anything pornographic is a violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions, but posting child pornography is a serious criminal matter – even if the one of the children is you. Last year, a 14-year-old boy from England was arrested for posting a sex video on his open Facebook page. The video was of him having sex with another 14-year-old. Police ultimately decided to drop the case, but he could have been charged with creating an illicit video of a minor.

Facebook and other social media sites are a great way to keep in touch with family and friends, and they also offer a platform for each of us to tell others more about ourselves. But as these cases show, over-sharing can lead to some serious personal and legal consequences. For the sake of your freedom, please think before you post.

Source: The Daily Dot, “The 9 dumbest Facebook arrests,” Kevin Collier, Feb. 4, 2013

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