Be Careful Who You Poke

In yet another case of blurring between the lines of virtual and reality, a woman broke the law for poking via Facebook!  Shannon Jackson of Tennessee broke the law when she poked a contact on her Facebook list, by violating a restraining order.

The order specifically prohibits either telephoning, contacting, or otherwise communicating with the petitioner.  Violation of a restraining order in Tennessee is a class A  misdemeanor, punishable up to 11 months and 29 days in jail, as well as a fine up to $2500.

This does leave one big question on the table, however—if the plaintiff here felt so threatened by the defendant, why didn’t she block (a little-known option in the privacy settings) or at least de-friend her on Facebook? From what I can see, you can only poke friends (or possibly people on your network with public profiles). Yes, the accused is responsible and shouldn’t have poked her, but shouldn’t the plaintiff have taken steps to avoid contact if she was distressed enough by their interactions to get a restraining order?

What do you think? Should the perp here have known her poke counted as contact? Was she naive or hoping to subvert the court order?

From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by Geekazoid.

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Newest 5 Comments

1. Stalking can often occur at the breakup of a long friendship. As a result, there are often many arenas of "unfollowing" to be negotiated. It's easy to forget some of the places you are connected, especially if contact has not been made regularly, or only at sign-up, through that avenue.

2. "Unfollowing" can be provocative and force a stalker into covert following or push them to other extremes (remember, they're not healthy; they are stalking). Many choose not to block but ignore. It does help keep tabs on the sitation/one's safety.

3. Twenty years of tech expertise here and I find Facebook's security features far more convoluted/less straightforward than most. FB is invested in keeping your info open so that they can offer it to advertisers. Therefore, it is not in their interest to put the security features up front and make them easy for *anyone* to use, and they don't!
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I think they both were negligent by not blocking each other. Many people post personal information on their facebook pages and you're enabling someone to mess with you by not blocking them taking advantage of the very well known security features on facebook. Not smart.

Also, from the other side of things, it is plain common sense that contacting them online is the same contacting them via a phone. Not smart. Yes, a poke is one of the lowest forms of communication, but in the case where a person fears for their life a poke could be quite intimidating.
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I'm disturbed by the reaction of the commenters. If there is a restraining order against the person, she's supposed to leave the plaintiff alone. The fact that he didn't is not just a violation of the restraining order,it is an indication that she is unable to control herself, which means she may be a danger to the plaintiff. The plaintiff is smart not to block the person -- leaving her facebook page the way it was gave him/her the equivalent of an alarm.
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