When is a joke not a joke?
Perhaps when it involves a threat to shoot up a school and it's posted on Facebook?
A Texan teen is facing an eight year jail sentence for an ill thought out "joke" that he posted on the social media site during an on-line feud with a fellow gamer.
Justin Carter was just 18 when his life took a decided turn for the worst after he became involved in an argument with someone over the video game League of Legends.
“Someone had said something to the effect of 'Oh you're insane, you're crazy, you're messed up in the head,’ to which he replied 'Oh yeah, I'm real messed up in the head, I'm going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts,’ and the next two lines were lol and jk.," Justin's father, Jack Carter, told local news affiliate, KVUE.
Jack went on to explain that an anonymous Canadian woman took the joke very seriously and contacted police after googling Justin's address and discovering he lived near to an elementary school in Austin, Texas.
Justin, who turned nineteen last month, was subsequently arrested and remains in jail on charges of making a terroristic threat.
The teen has a court date set for July 1 and if found guilty could be sentenced to eight years in prison.
“These people are serious. They really want my son to go away to jail for a sarcastic comment that he made," Jack Carter told KVUE.
Justin's comments weren't just badly thought out, they were also extremely badly timed—coming just two months after the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
But, Justin's father explained that his son wasn't even aware of the tragedy having occurred!
“Justin was the kind of kid who didn't read the newspaper. He didn't watch television," Jack explained. "He wasn't aware of current events. These kids, they don't realize what they're doing. They don't understand the implications. They don't understand public space."
The Carter family has set up an online petition to try to draw attention to Justin's plight, and hopefully stop other kids making the same stupid mistake.
“If I can just help one person to understand that social media is not a playground, that when you go out there into social media, when you use Facebook, when you use Twitter, when you go out there and make comments on news articles, and the things you are saying can and will be used against you," Jack said.
Do you think Justin Carter deserves to be jailed for eight years? Sound off in comments below and tweet us @OKMagazine