Anything you post on Facebook can (and sometimes will) come back to haunt you. Chicago-area resident Christine Adamski discovered that the hard way when she received a police citation in the mail because of a comment she wrote on the social networking site.
The letter from the Will County Forest Preserve District stated that Adamski had brought her dog to the Whalon Lake Dog Park in Naperville, Ill., without a permit and included an application for the permit, a ticket for $50, and a printout of Adamski’s Facebook post “admitting her guilt.” The post read, “I was feeling bad that I haven’t bought a pass and been bringing Ginger there but I’m pretty glad I haven’t. So not going to worry about it until later. I hope all the doggies get better soon.” At the time, there were rumors that a bad case of kennel cough had afflicted the dogs in the park.
“People were calling and complaining about the kennel cough, but we couldn’t confirm it so an employee visited the Facebook page of the dog park for more information and that’s how we discovered Christine’s post,” Lt. Tracey Phillips of the Will County Forest Preserve District Police tells Yahoo Shine. “We require people to get a permit to make sure all dogs are healthy and up-to-date on their shots.”
However, Adamski, who lives in the town of Bolingbrook, says she did not bring her dog to the park at any time in 2014 and that the police simply misinterpreted her Facebook post. “I laughed,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “I was like, this is totally untrue. Obviously I’m not going to pay this.” Adamski wrote about the citation on the dog park’s Facebook page: “That’s dead wrong. I haven’t gone there since 2013!” Yahoo Shine could not reach Adamski for comment.
The police department ultimately acquiesced, rescinding the $50 ticket. “Normally, we would investigate the issue with a followup phone call or possibly a home visit, but since proper protocol wasn’t followed, we didn’t pursue the matter,” says Phillips.
It’s not the first Facebook post to get someone into trouble with the law. In 2011, an unnamed New Jersey woman was banned from mentioning her children and ex-husband on Facebook after writing a series of threatening posts that reportedly frightened her family (In May, an appeals court overruled the court order.). And in 2009, a Tennessee woman was arrested for “poking” another Facebook user. The poke allegedly violated a legal order of protection that had been previously filed against the woman. The terms of the order of protection prevented the poker from “telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner.” Violation of an order of protection qualifies as a misdemeanor.
In regard to this case, lawyer Heather Hansen recently told Fox Business that people have “no reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to your public posts, and even your private posts are subject to searches, possibly without your knowledge.” She added that people should “approach social media as if whatever you do will be viewed as if it is on TV.” Good advice!
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