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How Serious Are Status Updates?
By: Jessica Cherok
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Should social media be used as an indicator of someone’s mental state? Certainly, in the aftermath of tragedy, people wish that they had only known something was wrong beforehand. But with seemingly everyone making status snafus every once in a while, how can we be sure when what’s said is real?

Take the cases of Cameron D’Ambrosio in Massachusetts, and Justin Carter from Texas. Both teens were thrown in jail for making what authorities have deemed “terroristic threats” on their respective Facebook pages. D’Ambrosio posted lyrics he had written himself that mentioned the Boston bombing, and Carter’s post included a reference to shootings in a school.

Both boys made their posts within a short amount of time after each of the incidents referenced, and let’s face it — neither post is in good taste. Still, were these actually threats? Threats deserving of being thrown in jail, denied bond, and vilified?

We’ve all seen questionable posts on Facebook. Some of us have even made some ourselves. And while these young men certainly have poor timing, a terrible sense of humor, and questionable rapping abilities, neither seem to be terroristic anything. In fact, both posts included references to the post either being not real or a joke.

Maybe if Facebook had debuted its Feel Like emoticons sooner, D’Ambrosio and Carter could have said something like “feeling jokey” and avoided this whole thing. But surely actual terrorists would do the same thing to throw off authorities. Or probably not update at all.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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