Woman faces felony after posting photo of undercover cop on Facebook

Facebook prison

Covered by ABC News earlier today, 30-year-old Melissa Walthall of Mesquite, Texas faces a felony retaliation charge after allegedly using her Facebook account to upload a photo of an undercover police officer. According to Mesquite police, Walthall posted the photograph of the narcotics officer on Facebook after he testified against 34-year-old George Pickens during a drug trial that occurred two months prior to the incident. In the caption of the photo, Walthall specifically mentioned that the officer was working undercover and posted “Anyone know this [expletive]?” in the description. It’s likely that Walthall was attempting to use social media to figure out the identity of the officer and subsequently spread that information rapidly online. 

melissa walthallWhile Walthall’s Facebook profile was set to private, Mesquite police learned of the photo after one of Walthall’s Facebook friends spotted the photograph with the revealing caption within their News feed. The unnamed person immediately notified police and supplied the police department with a copy of the photo. After questioning Walthall, police learned that the photo had been supplied by Pickens. 

After searching online, Pickens had discovered the photo on Facebook without any tag to identify the undercover officer’s personal Facebook account. Opposite from Walthall, his idea for social distribution to reveal the officer’s true identity was far less technologically advanced. With the help of his brother Bobby Stedham, Pickens made photocopies of the photo in the style of a lost cat or garage sale flyer. The duo planned to post the photo around local neighborhoods or pass it out on street corners.

When police searched the home where Pickens was residing, they discovered copies of the handout clearly outing the officer as undercover. They also discovered an unregistered sawed-off shotgun underneath the bed where Pickens slept as well as 28.6 grams of methamphetamine and a variety of equipment for drug distribution. For his role in the creation of the flyers, Stedham also faces a felony retaliation charge. 

mesquite policeDetailed in the Texas Penal Code, retaliation is defined as “A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly harms or threatens to harm another by an unlawful act in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of another as a public servant, witness, prospective witness, or informant.”

However, authorities didn’t indicate if Walthall or Stedham will face significant jail time for their role in attempting to reveal the identify of the undercover officer that testified at Pickens’ trial. 

Regarding the publication of the photo on Walthall’s Facebook profile, Texas Municipal Police Association executive director Kevin Lawrence stated “It’s a very dangerous situation. If you’re trying to infiltrate a cartel, a drug ring, a gang, one of the keys is people have to believe you’re not an officer. Anything that hints at tying you to law enforcement is very dangerous.” Regarding social media accounts among police officers, Lawrence continued “There are too many opportunities for bad things to happen in exchange for very little up side. But the fact the officer shouldn’t have had a Facebook doesn’t excuse her either.

Emerging Tech

Here’s how Facebook taught its Portal A.I. to think like a Hollywood filmmaker

When Facebook introduced its Portal screen-enhanced smart speakers, it wanted to find a way to make video chat as intimate as sitting down for a conversation with a friend. Here's how it did it.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in February, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to 'Roma'

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (February 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies you’ll find on Hulu right now (February 2019)

From dramas to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Social Media

Periscope tool adds guests to feeds so streamers can become talk show hosts

Periscope users can now invite viewers to chime into the conversation with more than just the comment tool. By enabling the option to add guests, livestreamers can add guests to the conversation, in audio format only.

Crouching, climbing, and creeping, the perfect Instagram shot knows no bounds

Just how far will you go for the perfect Instagram? A recent survey shows just how willing Instagram users -- and Instagram husbands -- are to climb, lie down, embarrass themselves or let their food go cold for the perfect shot.
Social Media

Facebook’s long-promised ‘unsend’ feature arrives. Here’s how to use it

Send a message to the wrong person? Messenger now gives you 10 minutes to take it back. After an update beginning to roll out today, users can now retract messages if they act within the first 10 minutes after sending the message.
Social Media

YouTube boss admits even her own kids gave the ‘Rewind’ video a thumbs down

YouTube's 2018 Rewind video went down like a lead balloon at the end of last year, becoming the most disliked video in its history. And now YouTube's CEO has admitted that even her own kids thought it was pretty darn awful.
Social Media

Snapchat finally recovers from its redesign — so here comes an Android update

Snapchat's drop in users after launching a controversial redesign has finally stagnated. During the fourth quarter and 2018 earnings report, Snapchat shared that the company is rolling out an Android update designed to increase performance.
Social Media

Skype’s new ‘blur background’ feature could help keep you from blushing

Skype's latest feature for desktop lets you blur your background during video calls. The idea is that it keeps you as the focus instead of distracting others with whatever embarrassing things you might have on show behind you.
Social Media

Twitter users are declining but more people are seeing ads every day

Twitter's end-of-the-year report for 2018 is a mix of good and bad news. The good news is that more users are seeing adds daily, the metric the company will focus on moving forward. But the bad news is that monthly active users are…

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.

YouTube beats Apple, Netflix as the most trusted brand by millennials

The popular video sharing website YouTube climbed up in an annual Mblm study, moving up from third place in 2018 and coming ahead of both Apple and Netflix in final 2019 rankings. 
Social Media

LinkedIn finally gets around to launching its own live video tool

Live video is coming to LinkedIn for businesses and individuals on the site. The livestreaming feature is launching in beta in the U.S. before rolling out to the entire community.