Emoji Death Threats Are Illegal, Text Carefully

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And, you thought you could get away with it, didn't you?

No, seriously, we all know that threats of many kinds made over the Internet have resulted in arrests before. Even jokes (unfunny ones) about blowing up schools and the like have garnered police attention. But, honestly, we'd never even considered that anyone would threaten someone's life via cute, innocuous emojis. Then we read VICE.

Kidding, kidding. What we actually read was this fascinating unpacking of what happened during the creation of a VICE article. Seems a reporter from the magazine attempted to cop some codeine-laced cough syrup from a drug dealer who was doing his business with an app of all things. Indeed, we live in wondrous times. Frighteningly, the dealer was able to trace the communiqués back to the reporter's Instagram feed and, among other things, messaged an X-eyed emoji and a gun emoji.

From there, Mashable picked up the ball and ran with it, enlisting a professor of criminal justice to determine if X-eyed emoji + gun emoji = handcuffs emoji. The answer, surprisingly, is yes. Basically, whenever law enforcement feels there is a credible threat, it has a case — even if that threat involves a little yellow face. Moreover, it could become federal case depending what interstate servers were used. Fascinating stuff, making both the Mashable and VICE must-reads. (Mashable)