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Threatening language on social media could mean criminal charges

Social media is an incredible tool. It helps people stay connected with friends, family and acquaintances all over the world. With a touch of a button and a few quick keystrokes, you can let everybody in your inner circle know about something exciting or disappointing that recently happened.

Unfortunately, social media also presents opportunities for people to get themselves into serious legal trouble. Arguments on social media can quickly spiral out of control. You need to make sure that you are not saying anything online that you wouldn't say to someone in real life. Aggressive language could actually mean criminal charges in the future.

In Texas, threats of violence could lead to assault charges

Many people fail to understand that assault is not only the action of physically accosting or injuring another person. Assault also means creating a fear in another person that you will, in some way, harm him or her, or a family member.

People in Texas can face assault charges for any sort of credible threat, including threatening messages on social media. It is easy for situations to escalate online, but you should make sure that no matter how angry you feel, you don't threaten to harm someone or one's family members as a result.

You may feel like you can post anything you want online, but that isn't true. Freedom of speech only means you can say what you want without government interference, not that you're protected from the consequences of your speech. You could end up charged with assault or even with harassment over online comments or messages.

Claiming you were hacked probably won't cut it

The internet has a very long memory. Your computer, as well as your internet service provider, have lengthy digital records of all the comments and conversations you have had online. A prosecutor or an attorney working for someone charging you with assault could look at your online history and use it as evidence against you in court.

For many people, including celebrities, the first line of defense against social media-related backlash is always the claim of being hacked. That term refers to someone else either figuring out your password or accessing your account without your permission. However, claims of hacked accounts are actually very easy for computer experts to disprove, in some cases.

More importantly, your other behavior online will likely help support claims against you. If you threaten to punch someone in the face because he or she upsets you on Facebook (FB), chances are good you said something similar before on FB, or any other social media or commenting platform.

Your best option is always to stay calm and keep any disagreements focused on the topic at hand. Do not make threats against other people even online. Doing so could mean serious criminal consequences.

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