Friday, November 21, 2014
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Should threats or violent comments on social media be criminalized?

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider whether the First Amendment protects those who use violent or threatening language on social media in cases when the speaker's intent is not always clear. 

(Jacquelyn Martin)
Posted on June 16, 2014 at 5:16 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up a case and consider the free speech rights of people who use violent and threatening language on social media in cases when the speaker's intent is not always clear.

The case originated out of eastern Pennsylvania, where Anthony Elonis was sentenced to almost four years in federal prison for posting violent comments against his estranged wife, law enforcement and former co-workers, reports The Associated Press.

Elonis argued in his appeal that his comments were protected by the First Amendment and that he did not mean to carry out his threats. But the appeals court rejected his claims.

At Elonis' trial, the jury was instructed that Elonis could be found guilty if an objective person could see the social media posts as threatening.

Elonis' attorneys argue that a subjective standard is appropriate given the impersonal nature of communication online, The Associated Place reported. 

What do you think? Do you think threats and violent language on social media should be criminalized?


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