Social media has changed the way we live our everyday lives, providing information (often too much) on people we’re close to, those we barely know, and total strangers. Facebook users, in particular, are often all too willing to share intimate stories and photos with online “friends.”
There’s the mom who describes the unfortunate details of her toddler’s toilet training regime. The coworker who shares hourly Fitbit updates as he prepares for his next 5K. The newly divorced neighbor who finds therapy in posting the lyrics of depressing country music songs.
Behind the safety of a smartphone or computer screen, we’re all a bit bolder and less inhibited about what we’re willing to share with others. Like criminal behavior, for instance.
Examples abound of scofflaws taking to Facebook and spilling the beans about their bad behavior. Are the admissions of guilt a way of boasting? Or do these lawbreakers find penitent relief in the form of an online confessional? Or are they just idiots? You be the judge:
Making deadly promises to the Secret Service
Facebook is rife with strong political rants. But when opinions turn to threats, things get serious in a hurry. Christopher Castillo was so frustrated with President Obama’s healthcare policies, he made a “promise” to take matters into his own hands.
“If he gets re-elected, I’m going to hunt him down and kill him and watch the life disappear from his eyes,” Castillo wrote. When a Facebook friend warned the 28-year-old that the threat was a federal offense, Castillo responded, “I wouldn’t call it a threat, but more of a promise.”
One week later, the Secret Service was at Castillo’s front door. When they asked him what he would have done had President Obama himself come to call, the articulate young man said, “bitch slap him and beat the s— out [of] him.”
Three months later, Castillo was found guilty of making death threats against the President and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Drinking and driving is illegal, “but drivin’ and drinkin’ ain’t”
For four minutes, Richard Godbehere, Jr. filmed himself driving his truck while enjoying a beer and boasting about his newfound financial freedom.
“I’m so happy to be drinking and driving,” Godbehere exclaimed during the video. “We all know drinkin’ and drivin’ is against the law—you’re not supposed to do that. But they didn’t say anything about drivin’ and drinkin’.”
Godbehere was arrested for consuming/possessing liquor while operating a vehicle (and for driving without a license). The police didn’t catch the perpetrator in the act. They were tipped off about the online video, which Godbehere made available to the public.
Facebook frowns on posting photos of murder victims
“I’m going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife,” wrote Derek Medina, a Florida man who killed his wife and posted a photograph of her body along with his confession. “Facebook people you will see me in the news.”
The graphic image was shared thousands of times before Facebook was notified and deleted it. Medina, known as the “Facebook killer,” claimed that he feared for his life because his wife was abusing him. But police testified that Medina told friends he would kill his wife if she ever cheated or threatened to leave. It just so happened that she threatened to leave the day she was murdered.
“I’ll sell my babies to you for bail money”
Misty VanHorn was so desperate to get her boyfriend out of jail that she put her babies up for sale to cover the bond. Using Facebook, VanHorn offered to sell her 2-year-old and 10-month-old children for $4,000. (The eager negotiator was willing to accept a mere $1,000 for just one child, if necessary.)
“Just come to Sallisaw [Oklahoma],” VanHorn wrote on a Facebook message to an acquaintance. “It’s only 30 minutes away and I’ll give you all of her stuff and let y’all have her forever for $1,000.” VanHorn is serving a 10-year sentence for trafficking minors.
Happy New Year! (and sorry about your car)
Teens enjoy boasting about their drunkenness, and 18-year-old Jacob Cox-Brown is no exception. The Oregon teen confessed on Facebook that he had been driving drunk on New Year’s Eve when he hit another vehicle.
“Drivin drunk … classsic;) but to whoever’s vehicle I hit I am sorry. :P” Cox-Brown posted to Facebook. Two of his Facebook friends notified the authorities who were investigating a hit-and-run involving a sideswiped car.
Cox-Brown was charged with failure to perform the duties of a driver. He was not, however, charged with drunken driving because the Facebook post did not prove that he was intoxicated.
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