A 29-year-old U.S. woman and mother, Heather Elizabeth Coffman, has been arrested and charged with making a false statement regarding an offense involving international or domestic terrorism. Coffman, who lives in Virginia, is accused of promoting the terrorist group ISIS on her Facebook page.
FBI agents began looking into Coffman around April this year after she posted on several Facebook accounts, including one using the name Ubeida Ametova. She wrote messages supporting the Middle Eastern terror group, including one post that said “We are all ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq & Sham.” In July, FBI agents contacted her on Facebook posing as fellow stateside jihadists. They asked if Coffman could help them connect with ISIS in Syria, and she said she could, though it’s unclear if she was telling the truth.
Perhaps most important of all, at least from a legal perspective, is the grounds upon which Coffman was charged. Her alleged crime involves no actual actions, and instead rests solely on the content she posted on Facebook.
“This is in connection with Facebook and issues that arose from Facebook,” Coffman’s attorney, Mark Schmidt, told the AP. “To the best of my knowledge, Ms. Coffman has never left the country. I don’t know if she even left Virginia.”
Though it’s still relatively uncharted territory, it’s become increasingly clear that what you post on Facebook can have real-world legal ramifications. So watch what you post — especially if it deals with incredibly inflammatory subjects.
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