For every feel-good story about social media — see today's post about KBPI's Willie B being reunited with an iPhone he lost 1,900 away thanks to a Facebook friend — there's a cautionary tale.
Like, for instance, the First Judicial District DA's office take-down of Fly Society 420, a secret Facebook group.
Prosecutors accuse Fly Society 420 of facilitating drug purchases for as many as 900 people, a goodly percentage of them high schoolers or younger.
But while Christopher Bouma, seen above, has been busted and charged for allegedly serving as an administrator for the group, the students aren't being targeted for arrest. Publicizing the elimination of the site (it's no longer online) is being portrayed as an educational effort.
The concept of an Internet black market for drugs — including marijuana, which is legal for adults in Colorado (in limited amounts) but remains officially off-limits for those under the age of 21 — isn't exactly new.
Note our January 2014 report about entrepreneurs offering "free" marijuana on Craigslist (albeit with required "donations" or transportation fees) in an attempt to get around the state's licensing system.
According to the DA's office, Fly Society 420 was far more straight-forward when it came to commerce.
Here's a look at a couple of sale offers:
If only adults had taken advantage of such deals, Fly Society 420 might have flown under the radar, like so many other online pot exchanges.
But as noted by 9News, its 900-plus members are said to have included 177 students associated with 55 high schools and middle schools in the metro area.
Of that total, 71 have been linked to Jefferson County Public Schools, which worked with the DA's office on the case.
Even though the identities of the students are known, district attorney Pete Weir stresses that they won't be hit with charges.
Not so fortunate is Bouma, who's facing three distribution-of-a-controlled-substance counts.
In a statement, Weir puts his focus on the youngest members of Fly Society 420.
“Social media comes with potential dangers as well as advantages. This secret site facilitates the sale of drugs. Many of the kids using the site are not buying or selling drugs, but they are being exposed to the criminal activity.” he's quoted as saying. “It takes work to keep our children safe. More than ever before, parents must take an active role in their monitoring their children’s online activities.”
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Look below to see Bouma's booking photo, followed by the aforementioned 9News report.