At this point, you should probably understand that anything you post on Facebook or other social media sites is out there for anyone to see – and interpret in their own way. A woman in a suburb of Chicago learned this lesson the hard way when she posted what she thought was an innocent remark about visiting Whalon Lake Dog Park.
The post got her in trouble because she mentioned that she hadn't paid for a permit to use the park. The comment was posted on the park's Facebook page, and it alerted a hyper-vigilant officer of the Will County Forest Preserve District, who slapped the woman with a $50 fine.
Scene of the Crime: Whalon Lake Dog Park
What’s especially galling about the incident is that the officer never bothered to call the woman and get her side of the story, which seems like a pretty basic investigative technique. If he had contacted her, he would have found out that the woman wasn't even at the park that day.
The Chicago Tribune wrote about the incident on Thursday but withheld (or maybe hadn’t obtained) the woman’s name. Here’s what she said in the Facebook post:
"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."
She was glad she hadn’t been there because an outbreak of kennel cough was apparently spreading among the dogs who use the park, and she was happy not to have exposed her pooch. After being cited, she posted again, saying that she hadn’t been to the park since 2013, so getting a citation seemed quite odd.
There is a happy ending here. The park authorities realized that the officer had acted wrongly and dropped the citation, and the officious officer probably (hopefully) learned a lesson about being so trigger happy.
The lesson for the rest of us, of course, is to remember that stuff we make public via social media is, in fact, public.