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Law Offices of Tim Powers, Denton Texas
Article by Tiffany Valdez
As a journalism student, I have seen how a black and white situation turns gray.
I feel like it is very important to understand what our rights are and
where we stand.
Our founding fathers never predicted that we would reach an age where a
selfie would rule the world, or where we would have social media in general.
One of the best perks of having social media is having the ability to
express ourselves. But where does social media push the limit of going too far?
We are all aware of the First Amendment. We are guaranteed the right to
freedom of speech, so that means I can post whatever I want online correct?
This is where social media becomes tricky under the law.
You are in fact protected by the first amendment when posting on social media.
But other laws are set in place to protect its citizens online.
The law does not protect you from libel and slander. According to dictionary.com,
libel is defined as “defamation by written or printed words, pictures,
or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures.” The ultimate
case against libel is telling the truth. You cannot get in trouble if
it is a known fact.
In instances with public figures and or public officials one has to have proof of
malice. According to New York Times v. Sullivan, one must prove that the statement
or article was published with the knowledge the information was
Framing and context are important in forming a posting picture online.
We are at a day and age where we feel we can post
whatever we want and however we want. But that is not entirely true. Social media lacks that face-to-face interaction
which is important for decoding a message. Social media creates noise
and static. Think twice before posting something that is meant to be hurtful.
Going along with the context, watch what you post. Others may not understand
the intention of your post or realize it was a joke. For example, earlier
this month, a 14-year-old girl tweeted to American airlines “my
names Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of al Qaida
and on June 1st. I’m gonna do something really big bye.” American
Airlines was quick to respond that they take threat seriously and that
the IP address was forwarded to the FBI.
Citizens are not protected by the first amendment if they make threats
to the government or any public official. In fact those threats are taken
Another act that is not protected by the first amendment is
harassment. This includes but is not limited to
stalking, hate crimes, and cyberbullying. These offenses occur with the objective to annoy, threaten or cause emotional distress.
One of the biggest cases that is definitely not protected by the first
amendment is the
solicitation of minors. Solicitation of a minor can be considered anything that is sexually explicit,
which is “any communication language or material, including photographic
or video image, that relates to or describes sexual contact.”
Social media is protected by the amendment but when used in the right ways.
Social media is very subjective, so be conscious of what is being said
online. Here are some tips to help draw the line of what is protected speech.
Make sure to state something being your opinion to avoid libel.
The Federal Communications Decency Act grants immunity to website operators and Internet providers for messages
posted by a third party. Make sure what you say is thetruth.
- Be aware of what you post – some jokes may not be considered funny.
Instead can be interpreted as a threat, hate crime or cyberbullying; which
are all taken very seriously
- Solicitation of a minor is illegal no matter what justification you believe
to be true.
If you are seeking aggressive criminal representation by an experienced
criminal defense attorney for your Denton County criminal case or arrest
in Denton County, contact the offices of Tim Powers today. There is no
charge or obligation for the initial consultation. 940.580.2899
*Tim Powers is an attorney licensed to practice law by the Supreme Court
of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For
legal advice about any specific legal question you should directly consult
an attorney. Criminal Defense Lawyers with Unparalleled Passion for Success
Providing Quality Representation for your Denton, Lewisville, Flower Mound,
Carrollton, Corinth, Highland Village Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Denton
County, Tarrant County, Collin County, or Dallas County criminal case