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More than 20 students suspended after liking a threatening photo on Instagram

Why it matters to you

Students should be more careful about their social media posts and endorsements, which can quickly lead them into hot water.

Be careful what you like on social media. North Carolina high school students recently posted an Instagram photo with a caption threatening a shooting at their school and both the students behind the post and the users who hit that heart button are facing punishment, NBC Charlotte reports. The post resulted in more than 20 students suspended from Bradford Preparatory School in Charlotte last week.

The Instagram photo appears to be a fairly normal image of two teenagers posing in a parking lot. But it was the caption that had school officials contacting local authorities: “Bradford gon [sic] have a school shooter one day.” While the students behind the original post were “detained” by law enforcement according to the school’s statement, students were also suspended for liking the photo.

The post received 28 “likes” and those that were from students were suspended for three days. While the school calls the likes endorsing a threat against the school, parents at the prep school are saying that the suspension on their child’s record is an unfair punishment for an Instagram like.

“None of us are happy with the decision,” one anonymous parent told the local news station. “We feel like this is going to follow our kids. Twenty-plus students could’ve learned a lesson today, not necessarily been sent out of school for three days.”

The incident is another mark in a long history of authorities take action over social media posts, but is a bit unusual because those who hit that like button were also penalized by the school system. Police have arrested thieves after the accused posted photos of the stolen goods online and Instagram themselves have shut down accounts, including one designed for posting the names of witnesses in court cases.