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The Cost of Free Speech on Social Media
Authored By: Joyce Marsh on 12/8/2014

When is social media free speech not free speech? That’s just the question the Supreme Court has been wrangling with this month. Due to a Pennsylvania man’s 2011 conviction from comments he made against his wife, law enforcement and local elementary schools on Facebook, the Court is now debating the question of when a social media comment can be considered a criminal threat.

social media free speech

The reason the case went to our nation’s highest court is to decide what prosecutors must prove so they can win a conviction if someone is charged with making criminal threats on social media. Each side of the debate have plenty of precedents and gray areas they’re presenting, and Facebook is not a party in the case.

What does all of this have to do with your organization? If you don’t have a staff social media policy in place – now is the time to get one. And if you have one, it might be time to refresh your memory on what it covers and see if it needs to be updated given the current social climate. In the meantime, think twice about what you post or tweet, your right to free speech may not be free after all.



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