Beware Of What You Post On Social Media
On February 23, 2012, I admittedly made the biggest mistake of my life.
A mistake, I now hope young people can learn from.
I posted comments on Facebook that the U.S. Secret Service believed were a threat to the President of the United States.
I can't say I blame them.
I knew I had no intent of harming anyone, but how would they know after reading my words.
I posted these comments with the intent of being sarcastic, typical of my sense of humor.
That decision became my nightmare and ultimately resulted in a criminal conviction.
The months following my arrest were difficult and affected so many aspects of my life and my family's life.
Needless to say, this incident has put my life completely into perspective.
On the day of my arrest, as I got dressed to go to school, I briefly looked outside my window and noticed the police cars, but I thought they were at the wrong address.
I quickly learned that was not the case.
The Secret Service agents came into my home, detained me and questioned me about the posts.
I was extremely cooperative and did everything they asked.
After talking to them and admitting I had posted the comments, I was escorted to the Federal Bureau of Prisons in downtown, where I spent several days.
This was just the beginning.
Following my release on bond, I spent months dealing with this unfortunate situation and wondering what would become of my future.
I underwent a mental health evaluation and took a polygraph test in hopes people would believe I had no intention of harming the President.
I faced a possible five year prison sentence given the offense.
On August 22, 2012, I was sentenced by The Honorable Marcia G. Cooke to three years probation, with special conditions including four months of home confinement, and 250 hours of community service.
I will need to speak to students about the dangers of social media.
At sentencing, the judge recognized I had no intentions of carrying out any threat and sentenced me below the guidelines.
I was grateful to have had an incredible lawyer, Alan Ross, and a very fair Judge.
I was lucky.
But that afternoon, I walked out of the courtroom a convicted felon at the age of 21.
This has been a difficult journey.
I hope young people understand words are not just words anymore.
If anyone can learn a lesson from my experience, I hope they understand they should not use social media to post negative comments, threatening words, or compromising pictures.
In today's world, posts are available for the world to see and your words and/or your pictures will follow you for the rest of your life.
I often see young people posting pictures of themselves smoking, drinking, or half- naked on social websites and it now makes me cringe.
They don't understand their character will be judged by what people see on their sites, even if their posts don't reflect their true character, as it was in my case.
My advice: Use good judgement and remember that your Facebook, Twitter or any other social media account you are involved with will be your resume for the rest of your life.
Joaquin Amador Serrapio Jr., 21, was sentenced on August 22, 2012 to three years probation, 250 hours of community service and four months of home confinement by U.S. District Judge Marcia G. Cooke for threatening to kill President Barack Obama on Facebook. Cooke also urged him to speak to other young people about the dangers of posting threats on social media accounts. Serrapio, a music business major at the Kendall Campus who now has a felony conviction on his record, submitted this article as a guest column to The Reporter.
More Forum Articles
- “I’m Lovin’ It” But It Hurts My Health
- Akin’s Ignorant Rape Remarks
- Letter To The Editor: Obamacare Column Should Stick To The Facts
- Student Complaints No Longer Confidential