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Social media and the risk of criminal charges

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Social media now plays a large role in everyday life. Forbes reports that on average, Americans spent nearly 1,300 hours on social media in 2020. This may not come as a surprise. Social media has become the main source of news and communication for many people.

The risk surrounding social media is not a surprise to many people either. However, the risks do not only affect one’s mental health or finances – there is a risk of facing criminal charges as well.

Online crime is on the rise

Of course, criminal charges can result from online behavior or actions. The prevalence and definitions of cybercrimes are only increasing in a world dominated by technology. The connections social media offers, as well as the many platforms available, only add to that sharp increase.

The rise in cybercrime has not gone unnoticed by the government. Investigative bureaus and police now have units devoted to studying and stopping cybercrime. Additionally, federal and state governments have passed laws addressing these issues. For example, North Carolina is one of the few states which passed laws that made cyberbullying a crime. Individuals could face misdemeanor charges for bullying, harassing or stalking a minor online.

What are the other risks of social media?

However, cyber activity is not the only thing that could lead someone to face criminal charges in the real world. It could also affect the chain of evidence in a criminal case. Data or social media activity could provide condemning evidence, such as:

  • Incriminating messages and pictures
  • GPS location tracking
  • Physiological tracking through fitness apps
  • Actual posts on social media

For example, recent TikTok challenges and posts are leading several students across the nation to face criminal charges. The so-called “devious lick” challenge involved individuals filming and posting videos of themselves vandalizing and stealing items from school property, parks or private properties.

Students are only facing criminal charges because of what they posted on social media of their own volition. The devious lick challenge seems to have lost steam in the last few months, with TikTok taking action against the posts. Even so, it will likely not be the last of such challenges.

Parents: Take note

One of the primary issues in these cases is that younger children and students do not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions. They do not consider the fact that following a trend and participating in a challenge on the internet could lead to very real criminal charges.

It is especially important for North Carolina parents to be aware of their children’s online activity to protect them. Ensuring they understand the risks social media carries can help keep them – and their futures – safe.