Facebook Poke Could Lead to Jail Time

By Caleb Groos on October 12, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In another example of "now you can do it through Facebook," a Tennessee woman might face repercussions including jail time for Facebook "poking" someone in violation of a protective order.

Typically, when we hear about protective orders we think about protection from physical violence, like forbidding someone from coming within 100 yards of another person.

Courts, however, can and do include many other forms of protection in protective orders. They routinely forbid contact in all forms, whether it's carrier pigeon, mail, fax, telephone, email, or a Facebook "poke."

A Facebook poke is a quick message you can send another Facebook user, causing them to see an icon on their Facebook page indicating that you've poked them.

Though it seems something that wouldn't need saying, don't "poke" someone who has a protective order against you. And if you get poked by someone you've got a protective order against, take a look at the protective order and contact your attorney, because the order has likely been violated.

Though her attorney declined to give ABC News details about the underlying protective order, Shannon Jackson, 36, was subject of a court order to stay away from another Tennessee woman. The order included prohibition from "telephoning, contacting or otherwise communicating with [the alleged victim], directly or indirectly."

Obviously, a Facebook poke would be amongst the forbidden communications. Though it might seem fleeting, poking someone in violation of a protective order could fit squarely into the kind of harassment that protective orders often seek to stop.

The only real difference with a Facebook poke will be evidentiary. In this case, the victim printed a screen shot showing the poke. If the matter proceeds, it will need to be shown that the poke in fact came from or with the involvement of Ms. Jackson.

As in many states, violating a protective order can bring jail time in Tennessee. In this case, the alleged "poker" could reportedly face almost a year in jail.

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