Whenever posting something so public there is always the risk of attracting both positive and negative attention.
This year alone there have been a number of high profile abusive and illegal cases involving the use of social media, some cases resulting in jail time. This has led to pressure mounting on social networks and the relevant authorities to take necessary action against those involved.
I came across this story involving a teenager being jailed for making some disturbing comments during a backward and forward exchange of words with a friend on Facebook about an online video game. The teens dad said his son followed up the message with ‘LOL’ and ‘J/K’ (joking). Despite this the offending message was reported and resulted in the teen been arrested.
Naturally with crimes where the perpetrators have persistently posted worrying messages before committing their acts of crime have not always been taken seriously. After the crime has been committed an investigation produces further evidence corroborating the disturbing online posts. It would appear this is not the case with this teen.
I’m not saying that taking some kind of action against the teen was not the correct thing to do. My concern is how in depth was the investigation conducted and was jailing the teen with an obscene bail which cannot be paid, the correct way to handle the situation?
What was the full context of the conversation? From a thorough investigation was the teen found to be harbouring some nefarious tendencies and interests that made him a threat to the public? At the moment it appears this could be a case of an overzealous police force who have incarcerated this teen solely based on this one comment with no additional evidence.
The communication that took place between this teen and his friend is not uncommon. It is almost considered a norm in the world of online gaming for the so called ‘banter’ to get a bit heated. As mentioned in one of my previous posts some of the insults can be abusive and threatening, type of insults that would (hopefully) not be exchanged were the two players to ever meet in the physical world.
It is welcoming that the authorities are sitting up and taking note of some of the more offensive and threatening comments being made in the virtual world, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for common sense.
I say this often to friends and family, be careful with what you post online. They may think I’m being paranoid but what is harmless joking between yourself and your online community may not be seen the same way by others. Be selective with the information you share as once it is out there, no matter how many times you press that delete button you can’t take it back.