A Texas man apparently spent seven hours in police custody over a Facebook page password.
Jeremy Alcede doesn’t own Tactical Firearms shooting center anymore. Soon, he might not even own his Facebook page password.
Alcede was ordered to hand over his Facebook page’s password to the new owners when the business went bankrupt. He refused to provide it and was subsequently arrested for contempt of court on Wednesday.
That's the short version of what happened. Alcede contends that he was forced out of ownership
by the actions of the new owner of Tactical Firearms, Steven "Coe" Wilson. His refusal to sign refinancing papers pushed the business into Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Wilson brought in the owner of a former competitor to run the shop (which Wilson apparently intends to rename) and has demanded, via the bankruptcy proceedings, the password to Alcede's Facebook page. (According to Alcede's post on Facebook, he has already given up/lost control of his tacticalfirearm.us email account.)
Alcede, obviously unhappy with this turn of events, has refused to turn it over. Alcede is already somewhat famous (along with his former business) for the polarizing statements he has posted on Tactical Firearms' outdoor sign, including "I like my guns like Obama likes his immigrants: undocumented." Alcede has also built up a solid following on Facebook. Obviously, the new owners would like to harness Alcede's steam, but he's not really OK with that.
First, he asserts that the Tactical Firearms page is actually his personal page. This is somewhat true. Although the URL is https://www.facebook.com/Tacticalfirearms
, the page at this address is clearly a personal page rather than a business page -- even if several posts refer to his former business. (This is to be expected from any business owner and even certain employees. Social media accounts tend to mix business and personal posts
in ways that are often infuriatingly difficult for judges/legislators to suss out without making things worse
.) It would seem that, despite the URL, Alcede shouldn't be forced to hand over his personal page, even if it is heavily skewed towards Tactical Firearms.
However, nothing in the report refers to another Tactical Firearms page under Alcede's control
-- this one clearly designated as a business/organization page. This
page should probably be turned over to the new owners, although their plan to rename the business makes this seem more like a move to shut a vocal critic down than to take advantage of the 11,000+ followers Alcede has acquired. Alcede may feel that his efforts are being co-opted by undeserving coattail riders, but Facebook business
pages (and other official social media accounts) can be considered assets inseparable from the business itself.
The existence of this business page seems to contradict Alcede's indirect statement to the bankruptcy judge.
"When they said they wanted the Facebook, I explained to the attorney who was representing the company that there is no company Facebook page and there's just my personal page. And I asked her to convey that to the judge, and obviously it wasn't conveyed," Alcede said.
There are two pages and one is clearly a business page. Perhaps the new owners listed the wrong URL in their bankruptcy filings and the judge is only following what's contained in the documents. That seems unlikely, considering the disputed (personal) page links directly to the business page. Discovery of this other URL is inevitable.
Seven hours of lockup or no, Alcede still maintains control of both pages. The most recent post
on the Tactical Firearms business
page is a link to the ABC13 story about his run-in with the bankruptcy judge -- the very article I'm quoting. Obviously, the contempt charge didn't pan out the way the judge had envisioned. Time for Plan B.
A judge has appointed a third party to tally the personal and business posts on that Facebook page to hopefully decide who owns it.
No matter which page you look at, there's a mixture of both. Many posts on the business page aren't directly business-related but do espouse Alcede's political views -- something that definitely aligns with the gun store's target demographic. Whoever's adding this all up should expect to have their interpretations of personal/business posts challenged, just as Alcede has with everything to this point.