The potential severity of becoming involved in a hoax has many sitting up and paying attention, but some may fear that they could inadvertently become involved in something they can’t take back. Here is one tip to help you avoid a majority of the legal trouble that could come from online activity: never assume you are acting anonymously.
- A fake social media account can be traced back to its owner.
- A fake name and profile photo will not stop law enforcement from making an accurate ID.
- When necessary, law enforcement can utilize specialized tools and experience to trace a comment, post, etc. back to the address at which it was made – even the specific device used to make it.
An online hoax is not something you want to become involved in. Even if you were not the one to make the false statements, but you knowingly distribute the information, you could be seen as peripherally involved. If law enforcement identifies you as a part of this type of illegal activity, or has concerns that you could be part of this type of illegal activity, they can execute a search warrant allowing them to confiscate every electronic device in the home. This allows them to seize every phone, every computer, every tablet, etc. in order to check them for activity in relation to their investigations. In certain situations (i.e. when the hoax results in school lockdowns, additional security, etc.) they can also demand restitution for the costs associated with law enforcement’s response to the hoax. In conclusion, this is NOT a situation you want to get wrapped up in.