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Jailed Facebook User Freed by Anon Donor
By: Jessica Cherok
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One of the teens recently jailed for making “terroristic threats” on Facebook has been released. An anonymous donor posted his $500,000 bond.

Justin Carter, 19, was jailed earlier this year for a Facebook status update in which he referred to “shooting up a kindergarten.” He also referred to “lol” and “jk,” but authorities didn’t believe either. Carter’s remark was certainly of questionable taste, but the fact that he could be charged with a crime for making them was alarming.

Social media posts already lack tone. Compound that with heightened sensitivities related to things like violence in schools and gun control, and you have the perfect storm that landed Carter in jail. Unfortunately, this perfect storm isn’t ever really going to go away. After all, when isn’t someone up in arms about something?

The first response is, of course, to say "Use common sense." It’s in poor taste to talk about shooting children. Poorer taste to do it a month after the Sandy Hook shootings.

But common sense would dictate that — at the worst — someone would call you out, or unfriend you. But to be charged with a crime, have a $500,000 bond, and spend five months in jail? Is that really where using common sense would have led you?

It wasn’t, but it probably is now. Remember the old “If you wouldn’t want it published in the paper, don’t put it on the Internet,” adage? Perhaps we now need to up the stakes to “if you don’t want to go to jail.”

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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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