Freedom of speech debate unfolds in U.S. Supreme Court

Freedom of speech or direct threat?

KIMT News 3 – The U.S. Supreme Court is taking up social media, and freedom of speech, as their newest discussion.

They’re trying to decide what kind of post is considered to be free speech, and what could be seen as a criminal threat.

It’s a discussion that began with a case from 2010 where a Pennsylvania man posted on his Facebook wall about wanting to kill his ex-wife, and others.

The man claims that the post was a form of therapy in dealing with his emotions, but investigators saw it more as a threat and sentenced him to four years behind bars.

On a local level, the Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s office has been using Facebook to track criminal activity for the last couple of years.

Deputy Brian Koob says that one of the main ways they use their access to social media sites is to track the activity of sexual offenders.

“I think there have been up to five or six cases recently, or in the past couple of months, where sex offenders have been arrested due to having Facebook pages, or stuff they have posted on Facebook,” he says.

This form of patrolling is not only efficient for authorities, but it’s comforting for parents to see as well.

Holly Burtness of Clear Lake, is the mother of two young children.

While they are not at the age of being consumed with social media sites, Burtness says its their future activity that makes her worried about her kids safety.

“I have Facebook and some of the things that people post on there, well, you’re kind of shocked to see a little bit,” she says.

This shock is exactly why the Supreme Court is working to come to a solution about what can be perceived as a general thought, and what could be a threat.

According to the Justice Department, they wish to have the federal law aimed at preventing real violence along with the fear of potential violence made from threats online.

As of right now, there has been no final decision made on the issue.

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