An Illinois woman was issued a $50 fine last week after a forest preserve protection officer took her Facebook comment to mean she was breaking the law — by using a dog park without a permit.
The woman commented on a post from a local dog owner about dogs in the area experiencing kennel cough after visiting the Whalon Lake Dog Park. Her comment: “I was feeling bad that I haven’t bought a pass and been bringing Ginger there but I’m pretty glad I haven’t. So not going to worry about it until later. I hope all the doggies get better soon.”
Someone sent the comment to an officer, who contacted the woman and issued her a ticket for using the dog park without a permit. The officer sent her a letter stating she had "knowingly entered a dog park without a valid 2014 permit," citing her Facebook comment as proof.
As it turns out, she had not been there since 2013. She fought the ticket, and it was rescinded. “The employee had good intentions, but it wasn’t a good idea,” said Lt. Tracey Phillips.
The case opened a larger can of worms for the police department. Others began worrying that the police are monitoring social media, and could issue citations or search for criminals via Facebook. District Executive Director Marcy DeMauro said the police department does not monitor social media activity, and instead treat any information they receive from Facebook as a tip "that has to be verified."