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Can you be arrested for what you post online?

People often post on social media without stopping to think first. Clearly, this can lead to frayed personal relationships and could even get you fired, but can it get you thrown in jail?

It has happened. One young man said in an argument while playing video games that he was going to commit a mass shooting at a school. He was arrested and put in jail, even though he said he was just joking and maintained that he'd been making the comments sarcastically.

Another person wrote rap lyrics talking about setting off bombs in the manner that was done at the Boston Marathon and then beating the murder chargers. He was also arrested on the grounds that these were terrorist threats.

One woman joked online about driving drunk and running into a car with four people inside. A judge told her she had to take the post down, and she wouldn't do it. She was arrested for contempt of court and put in jail for two days.

Now, just being arrested doesn't mean the charges will stick. The case against the man who posted the rap lyrics was dismissed, for example. Writing about something, even a crime, isn't the same as actually committing a crime. The only reason the last young woman was really put in jail was because she ignored a direct court order.

If you've posted something online that got you into more serious legal trouble than you ever anticipated, make sure you know what rights you have. Being arrested does not mean the charges are going to stand.

Source: Mic, "8 Social Media Users Arrested For What They Said Online," Nicholas Demas, accessed Nov. 15, 2016

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