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Mom's Harmless Joke on Twitter Ends in CPS Investigation

Photograph by Twenty20

Twitter is a great place to vent your frustrations in a lighthearted, sarcastic way—unless, of course, you have kids. Alex McDaniel, director of content at Mississippi news outlet Magnolia State Live, is also the mother of a 3-year-old boy who says "the sassiest, smartest, most ridiculous things" when she least expects it.

Like most mothers of sassy children, McDaniel chose to take her son's show on the road via Twitter, sharing his daily one-liners and tossing in a few of her own. It was a way for her to chronicle his humor while entertaining other moms with similar issues.

Then, something unexpected happened.

After an amusing but frustrating interaction with her son, McDaniel followed up on Twitter for some comic relief. Her tweet was 30 characters long, barely even a sentence, but it prompted one follower to contact authorities and change her life forever.

“3yo for sale. $12 OBO (or best offer),” she wrote.

A few days later, investigators from Child Protection Services showed up at her office. She had been reported for suspected child abuse and human trafficking by an anonymous caller.

Not. Even. Kidding.

Someone on social media overanalyzed a brilliantly crafted tweet and turned it into a nightmare that would cost more than a lawyer to fix. After interviewing both mother and son, inspecting her home and finding zero evidence of abuse, investigators closed their case and said goodbye. McDaniel, however, still had a lot of work to do before letting go of what happened.

Recently, she came forward to share her experience publically in hopes that it might help others who are dealing with similar issues.

Photograph by Twitter

“What upsets me more is the idea of anyone using an agency designed to protect Mississippi’s most vulnerable children as a weapon to take someone down for no legitimate reason,” she said. “Time and resources that should have been spent on children and families who genuinely need it were instead dedicated to a tweet, and all because someone out there probably got bent out of shape that I don’t see the world the way he does.”

She went on to say, “It is one thing to come after me, a grown adult woman who enthusiastically signed up for a career that comes with a large amount of exposure and criticism. Coming after my son is utterly despicable.”

Social media is a vast wonderland surrounded by toxic people. As engaging and harmless as it may seem, this is good example of how dangerous it can be.

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