Supreme Court to Decide Legality of Facebook Threats
SAN ANSELMO, CA - MAY 09: The Facebook website is displayed on a laptop computer on May 9, 2011 in San Anselmo, California. An investigation by The Pew Research Center found that Facebook has become a player in the news industry as the popular social media site is driving an increasing amount of traffic to news web sites. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Monday, Jun 16, 2014 Updated at 5:37 PM PDT
The U.S. Supreme Court could decide whether or not posting violent threats on Facebook or Twitter will send posters to federal prison or whether it's considered free speech.
The highest court in the land will take up the case of Anthony Elonis, "a Pennsylvania man who was sentenced to almost four years in federal prison in 2010 for posting violent threats about killing his ex-wife and law enforcement on Facebook," according to the Re/Code.
Elonis said that his posts weren't serious, and his ranting was akin to rap lyrics. Lower courts didn't side with Elonis and decided his comments weren't protected under the First Amendment. The court could decide that a violent threat requires an intent to harm a victim before a conviction can be made.
The case will likely be taken up in the fall because justices are now readying for a summer break. (A spate of decisions will be made in the next two weeks.) That's too bad for Elonis, who will have to spend another few months in prison before the justices hear his case.