The internet and social media – in all its iterations – have become an integral part of our everyday lives. They have also, however, proven to be a new vehicle for crimes (called cybercrimes). Cybercrimes are on the rise, but better understanding these crimes can help ensure that you do not accidentally engage in a cybercrime yourself and that you do not become victim to such a crime.
Catching Up with Cybercrimes
The internet and social media outlets have become so influential so quickly that law enforcement and laws themselves have had a hard time keeping up. Nevertheless, cybercrimes are being monitored much more actively than they were in the past. Posting with impunity can land you in trouble. Further, it is important to recognize that your intended tone may not be the tone your audience reads. For example, if you post a pithy statement in jest, some readers could take your words literally and could consider it threatening.
Making Threats and Cyberbullying
The internet has made it far easier for people to harass and bully others from the privacy of their own homes. Texas has laws in place that impose harsh penalties for such harassment. In 2017, the state’s David’s Law, which targets online bullying that is school-related, went into effect. Those actions deemed illegal include:
- Sending text messages, emails, or other forms of instant messaging that are bullying
- Spreading ugly rumors online
- Creating a fake profile of another person
- Taking and/or sending embarrassing pictures of another person without that person’s permission
The internet has proven to be an extremely effective vehicle for people engaging in financial fraud. Financial fraud comes in many forms – from email schemes that trick others into providing personal account information to using someone else’s identity to make purchases online. Because using the internet for fraud generally crosses state lines, these crimes are often pursued by the federal government, which has greater resources and harsher penalties at its disposal.
Purchasing Illegal Products
Purchasing illegal drugs (or any other illegal product) is obviously illegal – whether it is done on a street corner or online. The seeming anonymity of the internet leaves many people with the mistaken belief that they are flying beneath the radar. Increasingly, however, this is not the case. It is not uncommon for law enforcement to monitor social media outlets for information related to illegal purchases.
Basing Robberies on Social Media Posts
This one is a little different. When you post beautiful pictures of your island getaway in real-time, you inadvertently provide potential thieves with valuable information about your whereabouts. In fact, such posts are a boon for those in the business of robbing homes.