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Facebook User Arrested For a Poke 394

Posted by kdawson
from the criminalizing-the-annoying dept.
nk497 writes "A woman in Tennessee has been arrested for poking someone over Facebook. Sharon Jackson had been banned by courts from 'telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating' with the apparent poke recipient, but just couldn't hold back from clicking the 'poke' button. She now faces a sentence of up to a year in prison."
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Facebook User Arrested For a Poke

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  • by log0n (18224) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:12PM (#29725923)

    The system works!

    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:17PM (#29725987)

      Yep, not really news. Would "Woman with a Restraining Order Against Her Arrested for Calling and Hanging Up" make the front page? Even "Woman with a Restraining Order Against Her Arrested for Texting" wouldn't raise any eyebrows.

      • by cjfs (1253208) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:23PM (#29726061) Homepage Journal

        Yep, not really news. Would "Woman with a Restraining Order Against Her Arrested for Calling and Hanging Up" make the front page? Even "Woman with a Restraining Order Against Her Arrested for Texting" wouldn't raise any eyebrows.

        It's not newsworthy that a restraining order was violated. It's newsworthy that law enforcement are looking at the violation regardless of the communication channel. It's one more step towards realizing we don't need to create new laws with "e-this, or cyber-that" to have them apply to Internet traffic.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:33PM (#29726147)

          How can they be 100% sure it was the restrainee that did the poking?

          (Yes, I'm serious.)

          If restraining orders include Internet contact, then it means you can send someone to jail if you can forge a packet from their machine. That's really scary. Sure the restrainee shouldn't have done whatever they did to get the restraining order in the first place, but making it so anyone in the world can send them to jail seems excessive.

          Also, what if they're both bidding on the same online auction? What if they're both Anonymous Cowards on /. ? What if they meet by accident on an online game? Does teabagging in Halo violate the restraining order?

          • Does teabagging in Halo violate the restraining order?

            Ah, the great questions of the universe...

          • Dumb questions all answered by real life restraining order laws.

            • by Golddess (1361003) on Monday October 12, 2009 @11:20PM (#29728105)
              Are they? Forget AC, lets say both people have accounts, but they don't know each other. Through random chance, the person with the restraining order against them happens upon the person they are to avoid contact with, and in various discussions they get into heated arguments. This goes on for a few weeks. Eventually, the second person realizes that the first person is someone that they got a restraining order against, while the first person remains oblivious who the second person is. So now what?

              I can certainly imagine what _should_ probably happen (second person informs the first person, _then_ if contact does not cease, the first person has violated the restraining order), but I'm finding it difficult to match that to a real life situation, so I can't imagine such a situation is already handled.

              Though.. I guess a possible real life analogue may be something like the first person writing a letter that appears in the local newspaper, with the second person writing a letter to the newspaper in response to that, going back and forth using the newspaper as the medium instead of /..
              • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday October 12, 2009 @11:56PM (#29728303) Journal

                Most if not all restraining orders require a level of knowingly to be in violation. In other words, you need to prove your actions where completely innocent of being in violation of the order when happenstance places you in violation of the order. If you hang out somewhere where the protected person usually goes, then chances are, your not going to get away with it. However, if your shopping and happen to run into the person, then your obligated to correct anything that might be in violation. When the circumstances are outside of your control, like maybe you were in an auto accident and rushed to the same emergency room the other person might be at for different reasons, then it waits until you are able to control your own actions.

                What this means is that if the contact is unknowingly, then as soon as it's reasonably known or suspected, you have to take corrective actions to be in compliance with the order. So if two AC accounts or pseudonyms turn out to be in violation of the order and there is nothing to suggest it was intentional, they aren't technically in violation until one or the other figures it out. If it's the protected person who does it first, then the cops will inform the restrained, if it's the restrained who figures it out first, they have to cease any actions that would violate the order as soon as they are aware of it.

                This isn't really something new to E-law as it happens all the time in real life. Imagine how many times you randomly run into an ex somewhere when it isn't expected. Now imagine that Ex is the restrained person of a protective order who didn't do anything to cause the run in. It's actually that common outside some court order will list specific places where the person isn't allowed to go. I've seen them list places of employment, parks close to homes of protected people, schools, and so on when trolling court documents. Here is a site that explains [columbuscityattorney.org] a little more about them in my state. I have no reason to believe they word much differently in other states. That site deals mostly with domestic violence but it does have some input about when you find yourself in the same place as the restrained further down the page.

          • by dougisfunny (1200171) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:42PM (#29726267)

            This doesn't mean they need to create new laws for "e-this, or cyber-that" just that they have to do due diligence to confirm the guilt of the accused.

          • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:49PM (#29726335)

            How can they be 100% sure it was the restrainee that did the poking?

            (Yes, I'm serious.)

            If restraining orders include Internet contact, then it means you can send someone to jail if you can forge a packet from their machine. That's really scary. Sure the restrainee shouldn't have done whatever they did to get the restraining order in the first place, but making it so anyone in the world can send them to jail seems excessive.

            You'd be amazed with what you can do with a piece of paper, a typewriter, an envelope, and a stamp. Just because it involves the Internet, doesn't mean it's ground that hasn't been covered before.

            Also, what if they're both bidding on the same online auction? What if they're both Anonymous Cowards on /. ? What if they meet by accident on an online game? Does teabagging in Halo violate the restraining order?

            What if they're both submitting write-in bids to a well-established auction house? What if they're both writing commentary to their local newspaper? What if they're both competitive Scrabble players climbing through the ranks of the local Scrabble circuit? As for teabagging - that's the sort of immature behavior that leads to retraining orders as it is. Once again - this isn't scary or even all that novel. What's scary is that people will treat it as if it is.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Un pobre guey (593801)
              I agree completely. Forgery, blackmail, fraud, all have existed since time immemorial. It gets more sophisticated, but not fundamentally different.
          • by Scarletdown (886459) on Tuesday October 13, 2009 @03:43AM (#29729321) Journal

            Does teabagging in Halo violate the restraining order?

            Or what about teabagging in City of Heroes?

            http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/Scarletdown/COH/COH-Teabag.jpg [photobucket.com]

        • Ever thought of running for office? Quite serious.

        • by Renraku (518261) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:39PM (#29726245) Homepage

          Actually, I'm glad they had common sense here.

          Would her updates appearing on his web page get her arrested for 'contacting' him? What about if he were subscribed to a mailing list or newsgroup that she posted in? What about if she had one of those Facebook apps that likes to spam send him a message saying something like, "I know a secret about you! Click here to learn it!"?

          There are gray areas for technology, but this isn't one of them, unless the program 'poked' him automatically. Also, if they're still 'friends' on Facebook, the restraining order should be nullified.

          • Grey area have been around before technology. Public speeches/appearances. Newspaper articles. Work related duties. So on. Nothing new here just as the GP says.
      • by DarKnyht (671407) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:36PM (#29727323)

        I thought the story should have been "Moron That Got Restraining Order Kept Woman as an Unblocked Person on Facebook" myself. Seriously if you go through the hassle of a restraining order, perhaps you should add them to your block list.

    • by fohat (168135)

      Poke someone and end up in the pokey!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If she really wanted to annoy this person, she should have gone the old school covert route of signing them up for news letters, catalogs, brochures, pamphlets, etc, going to the victims address. Then do the same electronically by going to every app download site, church, and political site and give them their email addy... evil yes, anonymous... not fully but close enough.

      Curious question, does anyone else when downloading software that asks for an email address, give the company their own email address b
      • Sort of off-topic, but did you realize that the "e-mail address" field on the Quicktime download page is optional? And even if you did enter it, you can uncheck both boxes, and you won't receive e-mail anyway? It's not spam if you requested it.

      • "...does anyone else when downloading software that asks for an email address, give the company their own email address back to them?"

        They do now. Wonderful idea. Thanks.

    • by mysidia (191772) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:48PM (#29726331)

      Is a poke really communication?

      I'm thinking of people who send random pokes to their contact lists all the time, without any actual communication meaning to them.

      Moreover... poking on Facebook only actually works if the person has added you as their friend.

      If you went to court to get a no-contact order against someone else, why the heck would you add or keep them as your friend on facebook?

      Everything status update, every message you post shows up as a communication to all your friends... so you're actually initiating contact with them!

      • A "poke" is a lot more direct than a status update, you have to specifically initiate it, and you specifically direct it to a person.

        But if it's really a poke, then I don't understand why they're still "friends".

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by baka_toroi (1194359)
          You don't need to be friends with someone to poke them.
      • by noundi (1044080)

        Is a poke really communication?

        I'm thinking of people who send random pokes to their contact lists all the time, without any actual communication meaning to them.

        Moreover... poking on Facebook only actually works if the person has added you as their friend.

        If you went to court to get a no-contact order against someone else, why the heck would you add or keep them as your friend on facebook?

        Everything status update, every message you post shows up as a communication to all your friends... so you're actually initiating contact with them!

        In the case of two friends it might be completely meaningless. In the case of someone with a restraining order against the other: what do you think? Look if you're so careless that you "accidently" communicate, in any way, with someone which has a restraining order against you, then I hope the judge hands out at least one implied facepalm. [roflposters.com]

      • by Nimey (114278)

        If you went to court to get a no-contact order against someone else, why the heck would you add or keep them as your friend on facebook?

        Everything status update, every message you post shows up as a communication to all your friends... so you're actually initiating contact with them!

        This. Why /was/ the plaintiff still a Facebook friend with the defendant?

        The defendant is still somewhat culpable (why, too, was she friended with the other?) but it's not hard to disallow any communication from another Facebook user. I've set my account to deny access to & not be searchable by this idiot who threatened me with meatspace violence because the stupid meathead didn't understand acceptable behavior.

        • by mathx314 (1365325)
          You can poke people who aren't your friends.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Absolut187 (816431)

        What if she had accidentally attacked him in mafia wars?

        Not that its likely, but it would be kinda funny.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by karnal (22275)

          I'm thinking they need a "Send Lawyers" button to the right of "Ask mafia to attack"

          Or "Create Restraining Order"

      • by rantingkitten (938138) <kitten.mirrorshades@org> on Monday October 12, 2009 @10:59PM (#29727955) Homepage
        It's not a meaningful message in the sense of a letter or phone call, but it's still a form of communication, yes, especially when viewed in the context of something like a restraining order, which says, in essence, "leave this person the hell alone". So while your "poke" on Facebook might not be the same as showing up at their door, it is still a deliberate, concious attempt at reminding the target that you are still watching them. That violates not only the letter but the spirit of a restraining order.

        Consider this. Let's say that instead of a "poke", the perp had instead placed a call to the victim's house and hung up after one ring. That kind of nonsense occurs all the time in these situations, and everyone pretty much agrees it is a form of harassment that violates the restraining order. The ring itself is exactly the same level of "communication" as the one-ring hang-up move -- it's a way of saying "I'm still here..."
  • First POKE! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:16PM (#29725969)

    POKE! POKE! POKE!

  • Ok, and? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cdrudge (68377) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:16PM (#29725973) Homepage

    A person had a protective order that was allegedly violated. That user was arrested and is getting their due process. News at 11.

  • by tecnico.hitos (1490201) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:17PM (#29725989)

    Interviewer: Ms. Jackson, how have been your life since you was prohibited from comunicating?

    Sharon Jackson: ...

    • by skine (1524819)

      Hey, interviewer, that's just mean.

      Ms. Jackson was prohibited from communicating for being an overzealous grammar nazi.

  • by davmoo (63521) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:18PM (#29726007)

    There is a restraining order in force that says "no contact". No contact on a restraining order means just that...NO contact. Just because its a "poke" doesn't mean it doesn't count. Haul her stupid ass in and make her face what ever consequences were specified in the original order.

    No sympathy what so ever. The stupid deserve what they get.

    • by Simulant (528590)

      The stupid deserve what they get.

      Yes, and if you are too stupid to un-friend the person you have a restraining order against, perhaps you deserve a poke.

    • Why would you "friend" someone on Facebook if you have a no contact order against them though? I did a quick try and you can not poke people who haven't "friended" you.
      • by Zordak (123132)

        I did a quick try and you can not poke people who haven't "friended" you.

        You can if they share their profile publicly.

  • by confuto (1453393) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:19PM (#29726021)
    That last poke pushed the "victim" over the edge!
  • court order (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:20PM (#29726037) Journal

    The court order prohibited communication between the two directly or indirectly. A poke is a form of communication that was recognised by the court as being in violation of the order. The order its self could be wrong but the interpretation of the poke as being a form of communication and thus breaching the court order is correct.

  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:21PM (#29726045) Homepage

    Restraining orders aren't jokes. If the poker really was the person subject to the restraining order (and not someone else spoofing), she deserves whatever punishment would have come her way if she had telephoned, dropped by in person, or in any other, more conventional way, violated the order.

  • am I the only one who went to facebook and was disappointed when the "filter by location" thing returned on results on Sharon Jackson from tennessee? I wanted to poke her (can you even poke random people who aren't your "friends"? I don't even know, this is the first time I intentionally go to facebook hoping I'll find something interesting there)

    • I wanted to poke her (can you even poke random people who aren't your "friends"?>

      I tried just now and you can not poke the "unfriended".

      I tried to "poke" my sister and asked her to check it since we aren't "friends" and it didn't work.

    • by Zordak (123132)
      You can poke at least some people with public profiles, even if they're not your friends. I just found a random guy with a common name who is not my friend, and his "poke" feature is sitting there.
    • by tomhudson (43916)

      am I the only one who went to facebook and was disappointed when the "filter by location" thing returned on results on Sharon Jackson from tennessee?

      That's because it's Shannon D Jackson, not Sharon.

      1. Create account with similar name (maybe use a unicode character that looks like a regular letter, put an extra space between the letters, etc) so that the screen name looks identical
      2. "Poke" Dana M. Hannah, the judge, the prosecutor, etc.
      3. Creae account with name of Dana M. Hannah (the victim)
      4. "Poke" the j
  • by lobiusmoop (305328) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:25PM (#29726081) Homepage

    a poke got you infinite lives, not arrested. /get off my 8-bit lawn

  • TFA didn't imply that the accuser furnished any actual proof of this. Is facebook required to hand over their "poke logs"?

    1) File a restraining order
    2) Download Firebug and alter web page
    3) ??
    4) Proof-it

    • You seem to imply that you read TFA, but you clearly didn't; half of the first page is spent on the accused's lawyer stating the following:

      - The only evidence thus far is a screen grab
      - They're working with Facebook to get some concrete evidence

      Therefore, you've proven you didn't read TFA despite implying you did ;)

      Furthermore, it's unclear whether said screen grab was from the victim's own computer, or if someone else took the screen grab. (I don't use Facebook; can you see pokes on other people's account

  • Okay... (Score:5, Informative)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:38PM (#29726221) Homepage
    I admit I don't know what this woman did exactly to get the restraining order, but I've been a victim of harassment. Even though a Facebook poke is a pretty negligible sort of contact, the psychological toll is takes on who she is being barred from communicating with could still be pretty great. I know that just seeing a photo of the person who was doing things to me was enough to make my pulse race and my stomach churn. Poking someone on Facebook after a restraining order tells the victim, "I still have ways to get to you." I'm glad she's being prosecuted.
  • by OzPeter (195038)

    (Playing devil's advocate here)

    Yes we all agree that the woman should get locked up for breaching a restraining order .. IF SHE DID IT.

    The question I have is how do you prove this?

    She could have simply been stalking her victim on facebook and her cat walked across the keyboard at an inappropriate moment et voila one cat induced restraining order breach.

    Any number of things from another household member to a hacked computer could have done this, so what is the level of proof required to lock her away. I hop

    • by Zordak (123132)
      Facebook is not unique in providing unreasonable "what if..." scenarios on why the offender "might be" innocent. "What if it was actually a burglar who broke into my house and called her house and hung up?" "What if it was actually my long-lost twin, separated at birth, who knocked on her door?" "What if that hand written letter was actually somebody forging my handwriting to frame me?" The law can never deal in absolute certainties
  • Facebook only allows you to poke your friends, right? With a restraining order in place, how did these two have such a relationship in the first place?

    • I don't know the details but it could be that the two were friends at one point and did not bother to unfriend each other.

  • by Brigadier (12956) on Monday October 12, 2009 @07:54PM (#29726399)

    I thought you could only poke a friend, which would mean they both agreed to add each other and thus allow interaction. If the facebook friendship was initiated before the initial court order wouldn't that require that it be ended by both parties and the act of keeping it would mean there was an agreement between both parties ? That's sorta like getting a restraining order and continuing to live with the person you had teh order againts.

  • Wouldn't you BLOCK a person on facebook before getting a restraining order out on them? However, I don't disagree with this decision at all, and strongly agree with the previous comment:

    Yep, not really news. Would "Woman with a Restraining Order Against Her Arrested for Calling and Hanging Up" make the front page? Even "Woman with a Restraining Order Against Her Arrested for Texting" wouldn't raise any eyebrows.

    It's not newsworthy that a restraining order was violated. It's newsworthy that law enforcement are looking at the violation regardless of the communication channel. It's one more step towards realizing we don't need to create new laws with "e-this, or cyber-that" to have them apply to Internet traffic.

  • Why is this news? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Monday October 12, 2009 @08:23PM (#29726719) Homepage

    Such restraining orders may or may not be justified or reasonable, but she clearly violated the order. I don't see that the fact that a "Facebook poke" was involved is relevant.

  • Make that Jail (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ksemlerK (610016)
    ...up to a year in prison...

    More then 365 days = State Prison
    Less then 365 days = County Jail

    Jail is for pre-trial flight risks, and sentences which are less then one calander year. Less then 1 year, you stay in county lockup, more then that, and you're shipped off to the state pen. A weekend of incarceration is not prison, it's jail. It sucks, yes. But it's not prison. The bodily risk in my experience in county is very minimal, (don't start anything, and you'll be left alone). It's hours upon
  • There are way too many poker-faced people who should be in the pokey for poking someone.

    That said, they should have forced her FB status update to read "In Prison For Breaking the Law" and changed her FB picture to be that of someone wearing an orange jumpsuit.

  • by pongo000 (97357) on Monday October 12, 2009 @09:46PM (#29727389)

    I seem to be the only person here who doesn't get this "poking" business. In more ways than one, it would seem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dbIII (701233)
      Well I thought it was about putting stuff at a memory address. Yet another bit of meaning overload.

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