People arrested for dumb social media posts kind of had it coming to them. From the teens who jokingly threaten lives on Twitter to those who took to Facebook to organize full-scale riots, all of these people have one thing in common: each were arrested for a common-sense-bending social media post.
In our world where Snapchats, Instagrams, Facebook posts, and Tweets spread information instantly, it’s entirely too easy for those who are dumb enough to put their death threats and otherwise unclean thoughts on the web for all to see. Unfortunately for them, social media is also a place where law enforcement monitors activity to catch just these kind of threats.
So between the Dutch teen who jokingly tweeted a threat to American Airlines, to the sports fan who threatened to shoot his favorite British diver after he didn’t bring home a medal at the 2012 Olympics, to the Los Angeles man who asked for retweets to take out some innocent victims with his sniper rifle, there is not shortage of stories about dumb things posted on social media that led to arrests – sometimes, even years in prison.
Folks, the next time you make a social media post, be it about your excitement for a concert or your plans for your next vacation, take a moment to think before you press send. That moment of clarity might just keep you out of jail.
Mass Shooter Dylann Roof’s Sister Posted About Shooting People On Snapchat
Morgan Roof, mass shooter Dylann Roof’s sister, was arrested on March 15, 2018 after she posted on Snapchat that people protesting gun violence should be shot. She posted the message on her private account, but when students at her school saw it, they reported her to a school resource officer. “I hope it’s a trap and y’all get shot,” she wrote, according to the New York Times. “We know it’s fixing to be nothing but black people walkin out anyway.”
When she was arrested at her South Carolina high school, police found marijuana, a knife, and pepper spray on her. Her post was in response to a national movement of students walking out of class to show support for gun reform. It was organized after 17 people were killed at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 19, 2018.
In 2016, her older brother Dylann killed nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, said he wanted to start a race war. All of his victims were black. He was convicted on all counts in 2017 after pleading guilty to avoid the death penalty.
Escaped Prisoner Gets Caught at Mexican Resort
A fugitive who escaped from the Payette County jail in Idaho was arrested by U.S. marshals after he posted his whereabouts on Instagram. They nabbed Nicholas Grove, who escaped by scaling a fence in 2014, in Tulum, Mexico, thanks in large part to the selfies he posted at a resort.
“Social media certainly played a role originally because this particular individual bragged about his escape on Facebook,” Marshal Brian Underwood said. It’s a good lesson from criminals and non-criminals alike: Keep your vacation photos to yourself.
Woman Posts Facebook Photo Showing Her Murder Victim And Weapon
Eighteen-year-old Brittney Gargol was found strangled to death by a landfill in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in 2016. A belt, apparently the murder weapon, was found near her body.
The belt belonged to Cheyenne Rose Antoine. The authorities identified her as the likely murderer thanks to a picture she had posted on Facebook hours before Gargol’s death. The photo showed Antoine, wearing the belt, standing by Gargol.
Antoine pleaded guilty to manslaughter, saying she and Gargol had gotten into a drunken argument. She was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Teen Sends Murder Scene Selfie Via Snapchat
Snapchatting a selfie with you and your victim is the perfect way to share a crime scene photo, right? Seven seconds of revelry and then the evidence disappears. Until the person on the receiving end snaps a screen shot with your user name on full display, of course.
Maxwell Marion Morton (no relation to Matron Mama) was charged with first-degree murder in Pennsylvania after he sent a Snapchat of himself and his victim (16-year-old Ryan Mangan) to several people, one of whom took a screenshot of the (perhaps) unintentional confession.
Dutch Girl Arrested for American Airlines Threat
“Hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m going to do something really big bye.” was the tweet sent by 14-year-old Sarah, @QueenDemetriax_ on Twitter, in April 2014, supposedly as a joke. The folks over at @AmericanAir however were not laughing and quickly responded by saying, “@QueenDemetriax_ Sarah, we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”
What followed, before the account was suspended, was the complete implosion of the so-called joke and an insane freak out by the Dutch teen. After pleading that she’s “just a girl” and vowing not to tell her parents about her momentary lapse in sanity, Sarah later turned herself into police where she was charged with posting a false or alarming announcement.
Olympic Twitter Rant Goes a Step Too Far
Athletes are easy targets for hate mail when they lose, but in the case of British diver Tom Daley, the messages he received after failing to medal at the 2012 Olympics took that hate to a scary new level. Twitter user @Rileyy_69 didn’t just go on a rant about how Daley “let us all down” and how he would “rather support a tramp,” this fan, or former fan, threatened to shoot the Brit too.
“I hold a gun license for shooting birds and I’m gonna shoot yours as well,” was the tweet that earned @Rileyy_69 a visit from Dorset police following a tip from Olympic officials, who were closely monitoring Twitter for safety reasons. Charges for malicious communications soon followed. No word on the kid’s new favorite athlete following this incident.
No LOL for a DUI and Accident
Similar to the many who were busted for bragging about their crimes on social media, a Kentucky teen learned that when one hits a car full of teenagers whilst driving under the influence, posting about it with a LOL expression isn’t very wise.
18-year-old Paula Asher did that in September 2012, and the message attracted the eyes of the victims’ parents. The parents went to the Woodford County judge, who ordered Asher to remove the post. She declined and was charged with contempt of court. Two days in the clink, in addition to her DUI sentence, were added on. Not funny, Asher, not funny at all.
100 Retweets Got This Los Angeles Sniper Arrested
Just for the record, asking for retweets is never good if violence or other illegal activities are involved. Los Angeles man Dakkari McAnuff made the bold move to test that theory when he posted “100 RT’s (Re-Tweets) and i’ll shoot someone walking,” in March 2014. Not only that, the sniper also posted photos of a rifle pointed at folks on the streets of Los Angeles, a photo of a man lying in a street, and a shot of McAnuff sitting on a police car as if he’d been arrested for these shootings.
Though McAnuff and his buddies later claimed it was all a prank that got out of hand, police saw it differently. They used the photos to track down his location, raided his home and charged him with making criminal threats. Add in a $50,000 bail and this might just be the worst prank ever.
Tourists’ Excitement Lost in Translation in Twitter Threat
To two British tourists excited for a trip to the United States, the term “destroy America,” meant visiting Los Angeles and partying their butts off. For the Department of Homeland Security, that tweet, sent from Leigh Van Bryan to friend Emily Bunting on Twitter in January 2012, was a serious threat.
So when the two Brits landed at LAX, they were quickly detained and questioned about their plans. They were eventually released after they explained that “destroy” is just slang for hard partying, the errant tweet led to a full body search by armed guards, a luggage search, 12 hours in a holding cell with a Mexican drug dealer, and an immediate return trip right back to England. Not exactly the planned Hollywood vacation they were hoping for!
Dieudonné M’bala M’bala Sides with Terrorists
Following the 2015 terrorist shootings at satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher kosher supermarket, anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonné posted on Facebook “Je suis Charlie Coulibaly”, a reference to the phrase “Je suis Charlie“, used to support the murdered journalists and Amedy Coulibaly, who was believed to have taken part in the attacks. Shortly after, Dieudonné was arrested in Paris and accused of publicly supporting terrorism.
Don’t Drink, Drive, and Facebook
Jacob Cox-Brown learned the hard way that not only shouldn’t you drink and drive, but you shouldn’t brag about it either when he wrote “Drivin drunk… classic 😉 but to whoever’s vehicle i hit i am sorry. :p.” on Facebook. One of Cox-Brown’s friends tipped off police to this post and investigators discovered that (unsurprisingly) his car matched the description of a car in a hit and run case that had happened the night Cox-Brown posted that status update.
Arrested for Criticizing a Memorial
India’s controversial Information Technology Act came under fire in 2012 when two women were arrested for criticizing a memorial service on Facebook. When the entire city of Mumbai closed down in memory of controversial right wing political leader Bal Thackeray, Shahien Dhada and a friend posted well mannered and sensible arguments against the closing of the city in honor of someone they believed only earned respect through fear.
A political supporter of Thackeray spotted these posts and reported them to local authorities under the auspices of the Information Technology Act, which bans inflammatory online comments towards other people, religions or organizations. Soon after the two friends’ arrest and release, many prominent politicians including a former Indian Supreme Court justice, voiced that the law needed to be amended to stop abuses like this case.
Over 20,000 Threatening Tweets
Between November 2010 and August 2011 Gregory Calvin King sent over 20,000 tweets at then Google VP Marissa Mayer. These tweets ran the gamut from weird non sequiturs about King’s life, paranoid ramblings about Mayber being involved with a group that tried to poison King with powdered HIV, and all-caps threats to shoot Mayer. King was eventually arrested and charged with making harassing communications and making threats transmitted through interstate communication.
Husband Charged with Second-Degree Murder After Posting Photo of Dead Wife on Facebook
Derek Medina was charged with second-degree murder for shooting his wife, Jennifer Alonso, and posting a photo of her dead body on Facebook. He updated his status after killing her with the message: “I’m going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys take care Facebook people you will see me in the news.”
He went on to explain that his wife was punching him, and that he killed her to stop the domestic violence he was suffering at her hands. He then said goodbye to his family, and turned himself in to the police.
Woman Broadcasts Her Drunk Drive Home on Periscope
A Florida woman was arrested after she broadcast her intoxicated drive home on the social media app Periscope. Whitney Beall had had a few too many when she got behind the wheel of her car and declared to the few dozen people watching her on the app ““I’m driving home drunk, let’s see if I get a DUI.”
She did, as she was reported by several watchers to 911, and police found her, drunk and driving with a flat tire, running into a curb. She didn’t get jail time, but did get a year of probation, work released, community service, and had her license suspended for six months.