It doesn’t matter if you’re just using social media to vent. It doesn’t matter if you were exaggerating or trying to impress friends with boldness. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 16-year-old Ohio high school student with no way of carrying out what you called for in the Tweet. As Alyssa Douglas has learned, you never make requests for presidential assassinations anywhere, particularly on a public social profile such as the one she used to have on Twitter.
The Secret Service is investigating her. There’s a chance that she can face real jail time as a result. Even if she doesn’t, she has made a dramatic negative impact on her immediate future. The ramifications could last her whole life.
Carelessness on social media is a problem. The clash between the concepts of freedom of speech and taking opinions to the point that they hurt others will always be a fine line open to interpretation, but this is not one of those cases. This is blatant. This is ridiculous.
Parents, if you allow your children to use social media, make sure they understand the consequences. Make sure they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that how they act on social media should reflect how they act in the real world, except tell them to pretend like they have a megaphone attached to their face at all times. That’s really what social media is. Even one-on-one conversations are broadcast to the world. No measure of privacy or setting can keep what we post completely off the grid.
There are no whispers on social media. If you say something, you better be prepared for the same type of consequences that you would get if you screamed it through the loudspeaker at a public place.