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Be careful what you say on social media

Social media is popular not only because it brings people together but also because you can get away with saying just about anything!

I am sure you have noticed people are much more outspoken on social media than in real life. People who would not have the courage to make comments to someone’s face are strong and opinionated when hiding behind their avatar on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

After all, there is a certain amount of anonymity online and who is really going to come after you for something you posted, right?

Wrong! Law enforcement in our good old state of Arizona has stepped up to the plate and has drawn a line in the sand.

Not everything you say on social media can be downplayed or played off, David Lee Simpson can testify to that, and he just might have to.

Simpson, 48, is facing counts of threatening and is scheduled to stand trial here in Maricopa County on May 8. He is the New York man that threatened, via Twitter, Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell during the Jodi Arias trial last year.

Finally, some accountability.

You might be wondering how a New York man can face trial here in Arizona for something he said to an Atlanta woman and a New York woman. Well, the ladies were here in Arizona covering the trial at the time of the threats. In fact, I was with Jane Velez-Mitchell almost daily during the last month of that trial when she was in town. Since they were physically here and the threats were made during that time, Arizona has jurisdiction.

I do not care how much you dislike Nancy or Jane. I understand they are polarizing. However, they were doing their job like many reporters, commentators and hosts and do not deserve to be threatened. I am proud to say that Arizona feels the same way I do and is going to set a standard for all to be aware of.

To some this may seem like a waste of time and money since there are those who believe that sticks and stones may break bones but words cannot hurt. However, it is necessary.

As social media continues to grow, adapt and take on new forms, users need to be aware that their actions have consequences. This case is close to my heart since I spent hours, days, weeks, months covering the Jodi Arias, George Zimmerman and various other trials for both national and local television and radio. I want it known that threats are unacceptable, whether in person, on paper or in cyberland.

There is very little law for what goes on in cyberland and online activities can be hard for law enforcement to investigate and I am proud that Arizona has taken a big step in wading into that difficulty and fighting a fight that is worth fighting.

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