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Sunday, June 26, 2022


Freedom of speech does not exist on the Internet


Semih Yusef/The Cougar

The Internet is just as resourceful as it is stupid. People do stupid things and they also post about said stupid things all over social media, but most of the time, people don’t get hurt.

In these few cases, stupid just might be what authorities need to crack down on potential or on-going crimes. Judging by what someone posts, it’s possible to prevent a crime or an act of violence from occurring.

There’s no such thing as privacy, regardless of what privacy settings a person chooses. There’s really no way to be able to control what leaks or comes to light because everything we post online is public.

As outlined by Business Insider, stupid can get someone arrested.

In the case of 19-year-old Justin Carter, it serves justice when he posted, “I think I’ma shoot up a kindergarten / And watch the blood of the innocent rain down / And eat the beating heart of one of them” on Facebook in early 2013. Carter posted only months after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.

According to CNN, he was later released from jail. Carter’s sarcastic comments were not taken lightly, and his case is a cautionary tale about facing severe consequences for controversial posts online.

Integrated communication junior Israel Lacour said he believes people can be extremely stupid, and that posting about things that will probably get one in trouble on Facebook is unwise.

“When someone hasn’t reached a level of maturity or haven’t realized they have something to lose, they post things like that because they think it makes them cooler,” Lacour said. “A more educated or professional individual would never do that.”

In the case of Paula Asher, she was brought to court and received a two-day sentence after she hit a car with four teenagers inside before driving off, getting a DUI and joking about it on Facebook.

“My dumb a— got a DUI and I hit a car…lol,” Asher wrote.

The parents of the teenagers saw the Facebook post and alerted a local judge, asking for the removal of the post and for her to stop using Facebook. After declining to oblige, Asher was brought back into court to face the charges she admitted online; Asher was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, possessing a controlled substance and with a DUI.

Additionally, Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan were given a four-year jail sentence after the creation of a Facebook event trying to encourage a riot in England. The event was called “Smash Down in Northwich Town” and a page called “The Warrington Riots” was created by Sutcliffe-Keenan. The event caused a wave of panic in the town and while the Facebook event was distributed to over 400 contacts, no rioting occurred.

According to The Guardian, the judge stated that the two men put a considerable strain on police resources in Warrington after causing significant panic and revulsion because rumors of anticipated violence had spread across the community.

Everything that anyone does or says online is public. Even if a privacy setting is only set to broadcast to one’s Facebook friends, one of those “friends” can easily take a screenshot of what’s being posted to resurface again later in the future.

With the Internet’s omnipresence, there’s no such thing as complete privacy when it comes to the content people share online. Facebook statuses, “private” messages between friends and photos aren’t private once they’ve been posted. The mindset of people today is that we are entitled to online privacy, and yet we can’t seem to comprehend that privacy online doesn’t exist in the way we expect it to.

People are beginning to understand the implications of sharing things online. With the rise of the NSA’s coverage in media and Internet leaks of content that should have remained private, people are beginning to retract what they share online.

As the youth grow up with evolving technology, the learning curve gap will shrink and they’ll learn early in life to be careful about the lack of privacy.

Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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