|Threatening Emojis Admissible in Court
By: Jessica Cherok
Sorry, everyone, but you’re no longer going to be able to use emojis to threaten people. Not that you should have been threatening people in the first place. Certainly not, but now your emoji antics are admissible in court.
Threatening comments posted on social media sites — in addition to violating most sites' terms — have long been subject to legal recourse. Even threats posted as a joke have landed plenty of people in trouble. Now, your murderous emojis can be considered just as much of a threat as the written word.
Recently a journalist named Fletcher Babb was the recipient of threatening emojis on Instagram, following an article he was writing about illegal dealings being done through the photo-sharing site. Babb’s investigative work ticked off an Atlanta rapper/drug dealer, who posted an emoji face and gun on Babb’s Instagram account.
Babb, whose Instagram account includes geotagged locations, became fearful that the dealer could find him by using information contained in the photos on his account. Babb didn’t go to the police, but his plight brings up an interesting dilemma; would the threat have been admissible in court?
Some states take the threats more seriously than others, and other factors like frequency, combination of physical threats, etc. come into play. Regardless, it’s probably best not to threaten anyone.
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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