Tagging Someone in a Facebook Post Can Violate a Restraining Order

Uh oh.

Screencap of Facebook

You might think of violating a restraining order as involving a dramatic scene. A stalker appears on the red carpet. A former spouse drunkenly tries to confront his ex. But transgressions can be a lot subtler. They might even be as simple as tagging someone on Facebook.

Maria Gonzalez was not allowed to contact her sister-in-law Maribel Calderon. The New York Law Journal reports, though, that Gonzalez tagged Calderon in a Facebook post and is now being charged with second-degree criminal contempt because of the alleged tag. CNet reports that she is facing a year of jail time.

Gonzalez moved to dismiss the charge because the order of protection placed on her didn’t specify that tagging Calderon in a Facebook post would be a violation. But Acting Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Susan Capeci denied the motion. Capeci noted that the wording in the order forbade communication through “electronic or any other means.”

When you tag someone on Facebook, he or she gets a notification about it. In this case, Calderon says she was notified that Gonzalez had written, “You and your family are sad … I’m way over you guys but I guess not in ya agenda.” Not exactly what you want to see on your Newsfeed from someone you had to bring a restraining order against.

Judges have increasingly viewed Facebook Messenger as a legitimate medium for serving documents, like divorce papers and child support notices. People v. Gonzalez indicates that even the most minor digital interactions can be viewed as powerful communications. Don’t take that like or poke lightly.