Hardly anything that happens in the real world stays out of Facebook – and now it’s obvious what what happens on Facebook doesn’t just stay on Facebook, either.
People initially flocked to the social network to bring their real lives online to share with friends and family.
In the process, they created a monster, that took those private lives – their personal data and habits – and “shared” them for monetary or other purposes. With advertisers, with other customers.
Then, the global reach and availability of the platform became such that politicians and media extrapolated Facebook to be powerful enough to insert itself onto the real world – all the way to deciding the outcome of elections in major countries.
No wonder, then, that this massive blurring of the line between digital and physical domains is warping perceptions and producing ever novel forms of trouble for Facebook users.
Take, for example, the case of Jon Goldsmith who as sued a US sheriff’s office, after being slapped with a criminal charge – for a comment he’d made on Facebook.
From the lawsuit:
“After informing Avila of the reason for the stop and asking for everyone’s identification, Dorsey informed Avila he would be having his partner, Deputy Evan Ruse, write a warning ticket to fix the break light. [sic]
Dorsey then told Avila that he would be running his K9 or “drug dog” around Avila’s vehicle.
Goldsmith watched as Dorsey tapped the bed of Avila’s pick-up right before his K9 jumped into the bed.
Dorsey informed Avila that the K9 hit on the truck.
At this point, Dorsey ordered everyone out of the vehicle and proceeded to pat everyone down and search the individuals.
Goldsmith then observed Dorsey make Avila and his passengers stand on the side of the road while Dorsey searched the vehicle.
Dorsey discovered no contraband or anything else of note in Avila’s vehicle but during the search, Dorsey kept uttering that he was getting a whiff of something.
At that point, Dorsey and Ruse gave Avila a ticket for the break light and told him that he was free to go.
As they began to walk towards the street festival, Goldsmith observed Dorsey and Ruse walk across the street and for reasons unknown and questionable to Goldsmith, Dorsey then body slammed a gentleman named Mike Arthur to the ground.”
The incident started at a traffic lights stop in Iowa, when Goldsmith received a ticket for a faulty brake light – to then have his car searched by a “drug dog” – as it turned out, for no good reason. As the officers were walking away, Goldman saw the sheriff “body slam a gentleman named Mike Arthur to the ground.”
When Goldsmith – already incensed by the way the police treated him – got a wind of Arthur’s mugshot on the Adams County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, he left a breathless, indignant comment, peppered with profanities.
The Facebook post is as follows:
“Ya when they run the drug dog round said car/truck and they make a fake claim the dog hit yes he hit after you tap where you want him to jump on then call it a hit and NOTHING shows up and they look like total fucking lying POS they/he gets pissed walks across main street and body slams THIS bystander that was giving them a hard time guess they dont have any balls to take shit talk they get BUTTHURT YES YOU DORSEY you fucking pile of shit hope this guy hires George and sues the county and you will be the 1st to go Dumbass Dorsey WHY you run the dog getting pulled over for so called fake claim you call a cargo light a brake light you STUPID sum bitch so why run the dog for a traffic stop of light out? THAT IS FUCKING BULLSHIT what reason? when you get shit canned i ll hire ya to walk my dog and PICK up his shit”
Despite this rant being legitimate criticism and protected speech under the First Amendment, the pair of law enforcers involved disagreed, submitting a criminal complaint against Goldsmith for harassment – by means of a “threatening” post on Facebook.
But a court threw out the complaint as unfounded. However, Goldsmith is now suing the police, alleging that the ordeal left him dealing with anxiety and avoidance of both Facebook, and the physical place where the encounter with the police first occurred.
This particular Sheriff’s Office is also accused of being no stranger to false arrests and First Amendment retaliation.