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Instagram evidence convinces BC judge teen was ‘set up’ on sexual assault charge

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A B.C. Provincial Court judge has acquitted a teenager of sexual assault after a trail of Instagram evidence suggested the boy was “set up” by a “callous” classmate who stoked his erotic fantasies before seeing him expelled and arrested.

A B.C. judge considered thousands of Instagram messages sent between an alleged victim and the teen she accused of sexually assaulting her. The judge concluded the boy had been “set up.” (Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images)

WARNING: This story contains graphic details of the encounter

A B.C. provincial court judge has acquitted a teenager of sexual assault after a trail of Instagram evidence suggested the boy was “set up” by a “callous” classmate who stoked his erotic fantasies before seeing him expelled and arrested.

In a decision that details the intersection between social media, high school intrigue and teenage sexuality, Judge Patrick Chen noted that the accused — known as H.S.S. — was a lonely immigrant who was new to school, whereas the alleged victim had many friends.

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The 16-year-old girl testified she had no idea what to expect when she found out the boy — who was also 16 — wanted to meet in a bathroom on the morning of a school day in May 2019.

But Chen found the girl’s testimony about the allegedly non-consensual “make out” session that followed lacked the ring of truth or “even the air of reality.” 

The judge preferred instead the “unshaken” word of the accused, who kept 2000 steamy Instagram text messages the pair exchanged in the days leading up to the incident — posts the alleged victim deleted after deciding they weren’t “relevant” to her claims.

“In my view, even the evidence of the complainant leads to the inescapable conclusion that the accused was indeed ‘set up,’” Chen wrote.

“Her own evidence presents the complainant, her sister and her friends, as people who are clearly comfortable with deception and manipulation — who find deception and manipulation of others to be ‘fun,’ speaking about the deception of the accused as though it were a sport.”

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‘Im sorry. I really am deeply sorry’

The names of the students and the school are redacted under the terms of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. The trial took place in Richmond.

According to the judgment, the alleged victim claimed two of her friends were in control of her phone when H.S.S. — who sat a few seats behind — sent an Instagram message asking to meet in a nearby bathroom.

The judge found the alleged victim and her friends had deceived and manipulated the boy by stoking his infatuation before accusing him of sexual assault. (Shutterstock)

She claimed her friends told her to go to the meeting, but not the reason. She also claimed she didn’t check the messages when she took back her phone before heading to the meeting.

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Once in the bathroom, the girl claimed H.S.S. kissed her, put his right hand on her buttock, placed his hand on her breast over her clothing and then showed her his penis after she said she didn’t want to see it.

“The complainant testified that the accused had not asked her if he could kiss her or put his hands on her butt, her breast or anywhere else on her body, and that she had not consented to any of the things he had done to her in the bathroom,” Chen wrote.

The girl said she and H.S.S. exchanged Instagram messages before and after the alleged assault, and she gave police screen shots of ones she deemed “relevant” — in which the accused said, “Its my fault. Im sorry. I really am deeply sorry.”

She deleted the rest of the record of their online conversation from her phone.

‘Mutual and enthusiastic interest’ in sexual encounter

H.S.S. testified on his own behalf. He also kept all his old Instagram messages.

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H.S.S. said he could clearly see the girl reading and responding to his texts in the minutes before the bathroom meeting. 

Once in the bathroom, he claimed the pair engaged in “French kissing” and he placed his hands on her body as she touched his penis over the top of his clothing.

The alleged sexual assault took place in a bathroom in a B.C. high school during the middle of the school day. (CBC)

“According to the accused, the complainant acted as a willing participant in everything that took place,” Chen wrote.

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That left the judge with the social media record, and a pre-trial decision on the admissibility of enough screen shots of Instagram messages to fill a 233-page binder.

The Criminal Code prohibits the use of evidence of a victim’s prior sexual history, if it’s intended to make them seem less believable or to support the inference that they would be more likely to consent to sexual activity.

But Chen found the correspondence was an exception to that rule, because it provided evidence about the sexual encounter at the heart of the case.

The Instagram messages, which took place over four days, were as graphic as they were prolific.

“These messages, read as a whole, seemed to indicate a mutual and enthusiastic interest … in meeting in person for the purposes of a sexual encounter,” Chen wrote.

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Asked ‘if he’d ever been arrested’

No matter what was promised on social media, the judge said the alleged victim could still have changed her mind and withdrawn consent.

But her “implausible” testimony was full of inconsistencies that gave him “grave” concerns about her truthfulness.

The teen denied knowing anything about most of the Instagram messages — claiming her sister must have impersonated her online without her consent.

The accused teen kept all of his social media interaction with the alleged victim, who deleted everything she felt was not “relevant.” (Shutterstock)

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“[She] offered no reasonable explanation as to why her sister would promise the accused, in explicitly graphic detail, what sex acts the complainant was prepared to engage in with the accused,” Chen wrote.

He added that it was “inexplicable” that the girl’s sister was not called to testify.

Among the Instagram messages the alleged victim deemed “not relevant” for police was an exchange immediately after the pair left the bathroom, which she began with the word ‘lol.”

The accused claimed that the next time he saw the alleged victim after the incident, her demeanour had completely changed. She ignored him and talked only to her friends.

“Prior to the bathroom incident, one of the complainant’s friends had asked him if he’d ever been arrested,” Chen wrote. 

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“According to the accused, when he saw the complainant’s change in demeanour, he felt that he had been ‘set up.’”

The boy testified that he felt he had no choice but to say sorry.

“He became fearful and felt that the best way for him to resolve matters would be to be agreeable and apologetic … notwithstanding that he felt he had done nothing wrong,” the judge wrote.

“It would appear [she] ‘just didn’t care’ about the accused’s feelings for her, that his feelings were something for her and her friends to ‘have fun with’ at the accused’s expense.”

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters

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Facebook Instagram and TikTok are launching new features to encourage people to get their coronavirus booster jabs.

From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.

It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.

TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.

I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones

More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.

People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.

A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said:  “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.

“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.

“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”

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