Monday, December 1, 2014

Threatening on Facebook: US Supreme Court case

Today, the judgment by the US Supreme Court was paid great attention. It will decide whether threatening via Facebook deserves being punished or not.

An American men was convicted of threatening by posting messages on Facebook repeatedly in 2010, implying violence against his ex-wife and mass murder for kindergartners. He opposed to the conviction as his posts were merely a kind of creative acts. A federal jury in 2011 decided he was guilty to 40 months imprisonment, followed by three years of supervision. His appeal was rejected once. So, Supreme Court was to make the final decision.

LehighValleyLive: U.S. Supreme Court to hear arguments in case of Facebook threats

His comments included this phrase:

There's one way to love ya, but a thousand ways to kill ya,
And I'm not going to rest until your body is a mess,
Soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.
Hurry up and die bitch.

This is apparently fearful. So, is it an evidence of a warning of murder? It is not a simple question.

NPR: Is A Threat Posted On Facebook Really A Threat?

It is true that his ex-wife were extremely scared after seeing this post. So, his act corresponds to the crime. But, is it generalized? If another person write the same post, is it also accused? Indeed, there are many similar messages on the internet. Should the police arrest all of the writers?

Some scholars suggested that the Supreme Court would be not likely to oppose to the freedom of speech. Today's debate on the court seemed against the defendant. I predicted the guilty conviction, but the verdict itself would be written deliberately not suggesting a restriction to freedom of speech.

TPM: Supreme Court Justices Grapple With Limits To Free Speech On Facebook

The Guardian: US supreme court debates whether Facebook threats are protected speech


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