Instagram bomb threat from student needs to be taken seriously, given punishment

Feb 29, 2016, 9:08 PM
File-This April 9, 2012, file photo shows Instagram being demonstrated on an iPhone in New York. So...
File-This April 9, 2012, file photo shows Instagram being demonstrated on an iPhone in New York. Social media websites Facebook and Instagram have stopped working Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, File)
(AP Photo/Karly Domb Sadof, File)

In today’s version of, “I can’t believe this is really news” news, we have the classic inter-workings of a modern-day crime: A 12-year-old girl, her Instagram account and emojis.

Yes, you read that right — emojis.

(For those old geezers who have no idea what I’m talking about, emojis are little cartoon pictures used in text messages. You know, like a winky face or a thumbs up.)

That 12-year-old girl is facing criminal charges for an alleged threat stemming from Instagram. What was the threat, you ask?

According to Fox 6 Now, the message — which was posted on Instagram in December — contained the phrases “killing” and “meet me in the library Tuesday,” followed by gun, bomb and knife emojis.

The girl has admitted to posting the messages under another student’s name and has been charged with threatening the school and computer harassment.

While the good libertarian in me screams, “This is free speech and should be protected,” the common-sense citizen and father in me says, “Pump the breaks — this is a whole new world here.”

It might shock a few of you to learn that I am siding with law enforcement on this one.

While it seems to me that our law enforcement and legal systems are scrambling to keep up with technology and social media trends, I believe the justice system needs to make an example out of her and set a legal precedent.

What she did was the emoji equivalent to screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

I don’t think that the 12-year-old should do hard time if any time at all, but an example needs to be made.

With technology advancing at light speed and social media running a close second, our youth need to be reminded that they do have freedom of speech, but no freedom from the consequences of that speech.

Michael Russell

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Instagram bomb threat from student needs to be taken seriously, given punishment