Most social media users understand that whatever they post publicly online is available to anyone with a desire to view it. What some might not consider, though, is that those potential viewers include law enforcement personnel who can use your words against you – even if they are taken out of context.
A Will County, Ill. resident found this out recently after adding to a Facebook conversation regarding a local dog park. Commenters complained pets were getting sick after visiting Whalon Lake Dog Park; and in response, the resident expressed her relief that she had not exposed her dog to the threat.
In hindsight, she admits her wording was a bit clumsy; however, the intention of her comment should be fairly clear.
“I was feeling bad that I haven’t bought a pass and been bringing Ginger there but I’m pretty glad I haven’t,” she wrote.
What she meant was that she had not used the park at all. The Will County forest preserve police department, however, took her message to mean that she had taken her dog to the park without a license and quickly responded by mailing her a citation.
It is unclear why they thought she would be “pretty glad” that she had exposed her pet to a potential illness – whether with or without a park license. Nevertheless, she found the citation in her mailbox, telling a local reporter that she was “shocked and confused” to receive it.
Officers, however, are defending their method of acting based on nebulous social media entries alone.
“We did issue a citation to a woman based on her Facebook post,” said department spokesperson Cindy Cain. “The only reason we were monitoring the group is because of the complaints of kennel cough. When we saw her post about visiting the dog park without buying a permit, it was our responsibility to respond.”
Now the woman will be forced to go to court if she hopes to contest the outrageous citation, Cain explained.
County forest preserve officials, including its president and at least one commissioner, however, reportedly disagree with the tactic and do not believe officers should rely on Facebook posts as the sole basis of issuing citations.
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom