Online interactions are often more blunt and forceful than face-to-face encounters would be. People can say very harsh things online without any immediate personal consequences. People will sometimes go beyond just insulting others to outright threatening them or making them fear for their safety.
If you are someone who enjoys stirring the pot or arguing with others online, is it possible you could wind up charged with a criminal offense because of what you say to others on social media?
Abusive communications could be cyberstalking or harassment
Sending people cruel, mean or abusive messages via social media, email or text message can be enough for you to wind up accused of cyberstalking or harassment. Just two messages can be enough to qualify as criminal under Texas state law. Even if you use alternate or anonymous accounts to send messages, you could wind up facing criminal charges for the abuses you heap on others online.
Digital behavior could also constitute assault
Some people take their aggressive or unkind internet interactions to an entirely different level. They threaten the physical safety of someone during an online argument. Texas defines simple assault as words, body language or actions that cause someone physical harm or that cause that person to fear for their physical safety.
Messages that imply you will follow up online abuse with a physical attack could constitute assault if they lead to significant fear for personal safety in the victim. Understanding how Texas defines assault can help you avoid making mistakes online or defend yourself against claims that you assaulted someone with your digital speech.