Middle-schooler may face charges for emoji use

A letter went home to parents

(CNN) – A Virginia student could be in legal hot water. She’s accused of sending threats on a social media account.

The threats were made in the form of emojis, and just like words, they have meaning.

You can use emojis to tell a story instead of typing out words. Like ‘it’s a sunny day, so I’m going to fly off and check out a spring training game.’

But the message that showed up on 8th grader Olivia Womble’s phone wasn’t as nice. “Kids on Instagram were getting like death threats, like using emojis. I think it was a skull and a bomb and a gun.”

The 8th grader attends Sidney Lanier middle school in Fairfax. It was a few months ago, but we are just learning a student used what the school system believed was threatening emojis on her Instagram account.

A gun, a bomb, a knife.

Womble says, “I blocked them so I didn’t see their stuff, they couldn’t see mine.”

The news spread, and a letter went home to parents.

Olivia’s mother, Melissa Batchelor Murphy said, “So basically they just sent out an email and said there had been an incident at the middle school and that the administration was handling it.”

The school system is keeping the details tight, and so are Fairfax police. The situation has been handed over to the commonwealth attorney.

Murphy, Olivia’s mom, is an investigator for her phone and her social media accounts. “Basically knowing her password and checking behind her to see what she’s sending, who she’s sending from, checking my Verizon bill at the end of the month to find out who’s she’s been texting, how late she’s been up. If anything is inappropriate, they’re taken away.”

The school has not said if it has taken any disciplinary action against the accused student.

Copyright 2016 CNN

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