Supreme Court to look at case of online threats

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Where does freedom of speech stop? The Supreme Court has decided it will look at that in what could be a landmark case. From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether violent images and threatening language posted on Facebook and other social media constitute a true threat to others or simply the protected rants of someone imbued with what one advocate called “digital courage.”

The court accepted the case of a Pennsylvania man who was sentenced to nearly four years in federal prison for posting the ominous photos and making the violent rants on his Facebook page against former co-workers, law enforcement officials and especially his estranged wife.

The Post went on to note that “the kinds of threats the court has considered in the past have ‘been supplanted by anonymous trolls wreaking havoc on message boards and individuals who, perhaps emboldened by too much “digital courage,” treat the internet as a global sounding board where anything goes.’ ”

So where does free speech stop and bullying begin. Will the Wild West mentality of the internet continue, or will a new sheriff ride into town? This will be interesting to follow.

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