A Cautionary Tale of Sarcasm in Social Media–Ross v. City of Jackson

An unspecified Facebook friend of Ross posted a meme that was something like this: Ross favors gun control. He replied with a comment: “Which one do I need to shoot up a kindergarten?” Perhaps feeling satisfied that he had won the Internetz with his comment, he logged off Facebook and went to bed. A cousin of the Facebook poster screenshotted the post before the poster deleted it. The cousin forwarded the screenshot to another cousin who forwarded it to her husband, a cop, who forwarded it to his police co-workers. Based solely on the screenshot and without doing any further investigation or interviewing Ross, the officers arrested Ross at work nearly 24 hours later, nominally on the basis that he had made a “true threat.” After the arrest, Ross explained his comment as a joke, but he was still jailed for several days and charged with “peace disturbance” before he posted a bond. A couple of months later, the charges were dropped. Ross…

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