POTOSI, Wisconsin (KCRG-TV9) -- Be careful what you say on social media. For one man, an online post lead to a criminal charge.
Image Credit: Pixabay / MGN
The Grant County Wisconsin Sheriff's Office cited Nathaniel Parker for unlawful use of a computer.
Investigators say he made false accusations against three men on Facebook, causing the three men to get death threats.
It all started in Potosi when a group of men started arguing and name calling. That broke up, but then one of the guys continued the fight online. The sheriff says his post warranted charges.
The Grant County Sheriff says Nathaniel Parker posted pictures of three men, claiming those men physically and verbally tormented an elderly, handicap man.
The Sheriff's office says during its investigation, that elderly man said he was never physically assaulted.
Sheriff Nate Dreckman says there's a fine line between free speech and harassment. He says Parker crossed the line when he used the other men's profile pictures, put them on his own post and didn't have his facts straight.
"There are consequences for certain types of speech. You have to understand you just can't arbitrarily post whatever you want wherever you want and not expect some consequences," said Dreckman.
Nathaniel Parker told TV-9 his original post was what he believed to be true based on things he says he saw. Parker plans to fight the charge. He says other Facebook users are responsible for the harassing threats, not him.
According to the law, and it all comes down to intent. Whether Parker made the Facebook post with the intent to inspire others to make threats.
Sheriff Dreckman says this is the first time his department has ever issued a citation for unlawful use of a computer. Years ago, unlawful use of a telephone was a more common charge.