Virginia Woman Arrested For Trading Insults On Facebook

During the interaction, Holmes posted a picture of herself pointing a gun at the camera with the caption, “I’ll post a few actual pics of me so you know the difference when you come find me.”

Holmes took the photo down later stating that she felt the picture was intimidating, although it contained no threats.

“It wasn’t a threat. I thought it was a funny picture….What happened to freedom of speech?” Holmes asked in an interview with local news.

Before she did, someone reported the picture to Henrico police. Holmes now faces up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Holmes was arrested under a Virginia law, passed in 2000, that criminalizes obscene or threatening language online or in public.

Kevin Carroll, president of the Virginia Fraternal Order of Police, said he wasn't sure how common similar arrests are but said they usually result from arguments that get too personal.

Kristin Holmes was charged with harrassment by computer.WWBT

Kristin Holmes was charged with harrassment by computer.

“It's not a matter of free speech,” he told the Daily News. “Free speech doesn't say you have the right to insult somebody else or threaten them in any form.”

“Facebook thugging” is not a term used by police, Carroll said.

The phrase is often used online to describe feuds. It made headlines in 2012 when Towanda Kellam, the Massachusetts mother of a 15-year-old boy who was fatally stabbed by rivals, blamed the death on “Facebook thugging.”

Holmes is not the first person to be arrested for holding a gun in a Facebook post.

Police around the country have started using similar posts to catch felons who are not allowed to be around firearms, the Associated Press reported. They also help police link gang members to crimes.

Even if posts aren't used to nab alleged criminals, they are often used against them at trial, experts said.

“Be careful what you put up on the internet,” Holmes warned. “Facebook thugging is a crime.”


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