Trolling on Facebook may lead to prison for on blogger.
On Sept. 10, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged 26-year-old Joshua Scott Albert with three counts each of criminal solicitation to commit murder, terroristic threats, and harassment for creating several Facebook pages aimed at irritating the city’s police department.
As the Daily Dot previously reported, Albert has an established reputation for online trolling. He first gained notoriety via his blog Staphmeal.com, which he used as a platform for calling out Philadelphia restaurateurs who allegedly mistreated employees. The blogger was also in the national spotlight for creating Facebook pages that advocated for the murder of several prominent Republican figures, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
What got Albert in trouble, however, was three other Facebook pages he created aimed at trolling Philadelphia's law enforcement. He was behind I Support Chancier McFarland & Rafael Jones, Kill John McNesby, and Kill Seth Williams. The latter two targeted the city's police union president and district attorney, respectively. The first championed two men who allegedly shot and killed Philadelphia police officer Moses Walker, Jr. on Aug. 18. Albert told the Daily Dot that he created the page as a response to the racist and hateful comments left on the Philadelphia Police Department's page that informed the public of Walker's murder.
“The city was just in an outrage. They valued one life over another. I made this page as a joke. It was naturally made to piss people off.”
I Support Chancier McFarland & Rafael Jones evoked the strongest reaction. Remove the Cop Killers Support Page, a counter page, was created on Aug. 25 and garnered over 20,000 likes. The overwhelming outraged spurred Facebook to take down the offending page. Before the shutdown, several current and former police officers threatened Albert via Facebook. The blogger immediately published screenshots of the exchanges on Staphmeal.com.
"It's absurd that I'm being charged with this shit," Albert told us via Google Chat.
The blogger took to his page to release a statement where he further clarified that his antics were just a joke and should be protected under the First Amendment.
"Guys [,] the next few weeks could be very difficult for me. I'm potentially facing 25+ years in jail for satire, a stupid little website, and pissing off some people in power," he wrote.
"The city in which our country was founded is now stomping on our [C]onstitution and every principle which people, including the very members of the Philadelphia Police Department, have died to protect."
Albert also apologized to the friends and family of officer Walker:
“My actions were in no way, shape, or form meant to offend you. I know that they actually did, and I apologize. I understand what it is like to lose a loved one and would never wish or condone your pain. I in fact do not support the two ‘alleged’ murderers. I was simply trying to offend the racist bigots who were publicly and ignorantly attacking me and the two alleged criminals.”
In our brief online exchange, the blogger told us that he's already obtained legal representation and that he's planning on turning himself in, though he didn't specify when.
He also included us in a mass email requesting that people like Tell Seth Williams To Drop The Charges Against JSA, A Facebook page established by his friends in support of him.
Administrators of the Remove The Cop Killers Support Page updated their page with a statement celebrating the charges the day the story broke.
The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Photo via Tell Seth Williams To Drop The Charges Against JSA/ Facebook