Careful What You Say On The Public Internet

in law •  last year

Have you ever been harassed on the internet? Perhaps someone like a disgruntled ex stalked your social media accounts and harassed people on your posts. Often they will tell (provable) lies about you to your business associates or harass people on your business's social media account. In extreme cases they may even threaten to send people after you on a public chat server. If this has happened to you make sure to document it as this person is violating the law and you don't have to take it.

These aren't minor laws where they wouldn't even come looking for you in the county it happens in either. Due to the rise in these types of crimes in recent years many of these crimes carry stiff penalties-- Some up to 5 years in prison! Let's take a look at some of these laws and their consequences.


Cyberstalking

The laws about cyberstalking in my home state of Georgia are very clear. They read:

"A person commits the offense of stalking when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person. For the purpose of this article, the terms "computer" and "computer network" shall have the same meanings as set out in Code Section 16-9-92; the term "contact" shall mean any communication including without being limited to communication in person, by telephone, by mail, by broadcast, by computer, by computer network, or by any other electronic device; and the place or places that contact by telephone, mail, broadcast, computer, computer network, or any other electronic device is deemed to occur shall be the place or places where such communication is received. For the purpose of this article, the term "place or places" shall include any public or private property occupied by the victim other than the residence of the defendant. For the purposes of this article, the term "harassing and intimidating" means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear for such person's safety or the safety of a member of his or her immediate family, by establishing a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior, and which serves no legitimate purpose. This Code section shall not be construed to require that an overt threat of death or bodily injury has been made.

A person commits the offense of stalking when such person broadcasts or publishes, including electronic publication, the picture, name, address, or phone number of a person without such person's consent in such a manner that causes other persons to harass or intimidate such person and the person making the broadcast or publication knew or had reason to believe that such broadcast or publication would cause such person to be harassed or intimidated by others."

To translate that legalese gobbledy-gook, the law does not distinguish between online stalking and physical stalking. It treats them the same. If a person has demonstrated a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior they are guilty of cyberstalking. They do not need to threaten you with violence. Anything that effects the well being of the victim such as threats of arrest or causing them to possibly lose their job applies. They do not need to do this themselves either. If they talk about someone in such as way that is likely to cause other people to harass that person then that person is guilty of cyberstalking.

Stalking can be a misdemeanor or a felony in the state of Georgia. As a misdemeanor it carries up to one year in prison and as a felony it carries from 1 to 5 years in prison. In addition, the judge has the power to and usually does have the offender evaluated for mental health problems. If found to have mental health issues the person can be committed and then they are at the mercy of their psychiatrist who can hold them indefinitely until they feel they are ready to reenter society. This is particularly true if that person has already been diagnosed with mental health problems especially if that person is taking psychiatric medication. However, if threats of violence towards another are involved that person is probably guilty of an even more serious crime.


Terroristic Threats

The state of Georgia defines the crime as:

"A person commits the offense of a terroristic threat when he or she threatens to commit any crime of violence, to release any hazardous substance, as such term is defined in Code Section 12-8-92, or to burn or damage property with the purpose of terrorizing another or of causing the evacuation of a building, place of assembly, or facility of public transportation or otherwise causing serious public inconvenience or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror or inconvenience. No person shall be convicted under this subsection on the uncorroborated testimony of the party to whom the threat is communicated."

To translate, a person is guilty of terroristic threats when they threaten to commit any act of violence against another person. The court will not take your word for it but if these threats are transmitted over the internet such as on a public chat server then a simple screen shot of the threat should be sufficient to prove the crime. In Georgia this is considered a felony and that person faces a prison sentence from 1 to 5 years.


Defamation

While the laws we've looked at so far provide stiff penalties to those that commit them, so far none of the penalties do anything for the victim of the crime. However, defamation laws may apply and these allow the victim to get financial reimbursement from the offender for their actions. Defamation laws apply when someone transmits information that they know is false or did not do due diligence to check the authenticity of their claims and harms another person's reputation. While you may be able to prove some of your financial losses because of these false claims, you will not be limited to provable claims if the false statements "charges another person with a crime punishable by law", "with being guilty of some debasing act which may exclude him from society", or "refers to the trade, office, or profession of another person, and is calculated to injure him".


Documentation

When crimes such as these are committed on the internet it is very important to document the occurences. Screenshots serve remarkably well for this purpose. While these things can be photoshopped, image manipulation software always leaves traces so your authentic screenshots will prove valid. When these things happen on a site such as Steemit than this is even better since these remarks are now permanently documented on the blockchain. Even if these comments are erased or edited their original form has been permanently documented and can be dug up by someone with sufficient knowledge of blockchain technology to find the original blocks.

If you experience problems such as these I sincerely hope that person stops their harassment of you. However, now you know you do have some protection against these practices. These do have to be directly aimed at you but if they are you can take action and make sure these crimes stop being committed against you. Be safe and happy steeming!

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@jphenderson ... Social media is a medium that connects cross-sector and cintas country without limitation, But once social media has been used by certain people to misbehave or provoke or spread false information.

I agree about the punishment to the person who made social media for the things I mentioned earlier, let's make social media as a medium to interact and communicate correctly.

Regard

@iskandarpcc

Mr @jphenderaon . .. Good articel ..

Articles that should be read by the owners of social media, social media is a very effective and cheap communication media, but now the use of social media is appropriate again, many emerging anonymous accounts are made for provocation and deliver false news, Of course this is very impact on the way people think orabg who read the information, I agree people who abuse the law so that it makes a deterrent effect for others.

Regard

@steem77

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At some point you have to stop beeing nice and ignoring all this ............! This people wont stop , so its up to us !

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Yes well, hopefully they will stop and if they don't we can take care of the problem. Either way it will have minimal effect on us. Obicham te lubov moja!

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Sadly this afect other people to ............. ( pure Jason ) . This people cannot afect us but they are so deep in delusional world that this actualy provoke problems . I share your opinion they stop or they will pay for them actions :)

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what's really sad is that these people have mental problems they need to address. Things will never get better for them until they do this but they won't so it will continue FOR THEM but NOT FOR US because we have solutions to our problems that aren't just in our heads but are well documented.

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Ohh i know what you mean ........... they ARE ALWAYS RIGHT ! Wow .... they are so perfect ..... point is if we are so bad why THEY still spend time stalking us ?
Mental isuess .....

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Too bad we can't get them together and let them obsess about each other and leave us alone.

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Haha , no way ....... you know this people want to dominate .... so no chanse they can even speak 5 mints .

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True, not enough space in any room for both of their egos.

Increasing in cyber crime due to social media fb,whatsapp the offender know that it will viral but they didn't know there is cyber law also. Some do intensely or some do by mistake but punishment is same. Good post and general awareness @jphenderson

Well, In India this problem is increasing day by day. People are not realising that there ain't no such thing as internet freedom. You can access anything on internet but you cant say anything you want on the public internet. There pretty serious rules for cyber crimes in India yet people are not understanding the seriousness of this whole scenario. When it comes to freedom, we always take it like it's our right. Rather we should take it as an asset which may be decreased in value if we try to misuse it.
So, I am pretty sure you're on the right track @jephenderson. Making people aware about all this, is the right move so far. :)

In last few weeks 5 people got arrested in Croatia because they talk bad stuff about croatian prime minister on fb

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Wow! Fortunately in America we have freedom of speech laws and criticizing our politicians is a national tradition. So unless you threaten to kill the President then you can say anything you want about them so long as you aren't breaking these laws.

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We have freedom of speech in Croatia too (I live there) and those guys were arrested exactly because they were treating openly to kill him among other things how they would like to harm him. So, it wasn't pure criticism or expression of different opinion why they were arrested.

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That makes sense.... I don't know anything about Croatian law but threatening to kill a major politician is probably illegal in every country.

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Yeah, I think so too, it's probably illegal in every country.
But in Croatia, it's not only threatening to kill a major politician against the law, it's threatening to kill anyone (no matter who that person is or does it work like genitor or it's a president of the country). And it's not only the law it's one of the main constitutional rights, saying: "Every human being has the right to life." Accordingly, there is no death penalty, as well.

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It's illegal to threaten anyone's life or any other threats of violence in America too... I actually talk about it in this post. However, it's illegal to even joke about killing the president here.

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Jeez that's just dictatorship!

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No, it's not! I live in Croatia and it's far from being a dictatorship country. Maybe we have a government that we are not madly in love with, as well as some politicians ordinary person wouldn't be proud of, but which country doesn't have that.

Why I'm telling that? Because those people that were arrested threaten the prime minister to kill him among other threats and bad stuff. So, it's not the question of pure criticism, expression of opposite opinions or even some hate speech, but life threats and that's, I'm sure you would agree with me, totally different category.

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I definitely feel you on that.... I doubt there's any politicians worse than American politicians though I'm sure almost every country has equally bad.

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Exactly! They are all piece of work of the own kind. Maybe different in performances, but essentially same BS.

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I'm sorry but that's just the half of the truth. I'm not some Croatian prime minister fan, but besides bad stuff, they have also have spoken of threats against his life. In other words and to simplify, they were threatening to kill him, which is a completely different category of pure criticism or expression of opposite opinions.

Great info thanks

Laws vary from country to country. Defamation and slander is serious business in Asian countries. Many times, the guilty will never see a courthouse. Best practice everywhere is the Golden Rule. If you see something you don't like, leave it be and move on. Personally, the only problem I have ever had is with trolls. They are everywhere.

Very interesting....

This is a great post, I actually once had my identity stolen on Facebook (They simply copied my account and began harassing little kids with it) Dam the amount of trouble I got in for someone else doing. Fortunately we managed to find out who it was and the account was taken down. I think being careful about what you say is one thing but also be sure to keep your accounts as private as possible. All someone needs is your full name a photo to create a little havoc in your life!

Social media is a medium to connect people anywhere in the world without limit. The concept was great, it only create negative impact to society when malform mixed up. People such as sex offender, trolls and other entity that bring negative impact to other user.

Therefore, this law is a big help to hold them back.

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Like your post.

Its why I no longer use Reddit, too many weirdos. Unfortunately they seem to be finding their way to steemit

Whatever we do make sure your mind and mind are healthy. Because if our minds are not healthy or our mind is not with the work that is in mind. Which is definitely work we will do must be chaotic. Because we are not happy to work let alone our minds again unfriendly with work. In because we again have problems. Surely we will mess up the mind. While thinking about what we are working at that moment also go into our minds the problems we are experiencing right now. Faithful friends will help us in trouble. image

Congratulations for your excellent post, I invite you to follow us and we grow faster, greetings

good post and vote

That's really great! Thank you!