In the digital age, social media is a crucial method to stay connected with the world. It’s so important, in fact, that the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a law that would altogether ban sex offenders from using Facebook.
While the North Carolina law only applied to registered sex offenders, the Supreme Court’s ruling could make a positive and wide-reaching impact on all social media users. In his opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that prohibiting the use of Facebook and other social platforms prevents users from “engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights.” In other words, it’s unconstitutional for the government (or anyone else) to block you from using Facebook.
“Even convicted criminals — and in some instances especially convicted criminals — might receive legitimate benefits from these means for access to the world of ideas, particularly if they seek to reform and to pursue lawful and rewarding lives,” Justice Kennedy wrote.
This is important for many reasons, most notably because it’s one of the first times the Supreme Court has considered the relationship between our centuries-old free speech laws and the modern Internet. However, some experts have pointed out that the real issue moving forward may be Facebook itself, and its power to censor users. Indeed, Facebook controls its own platform, and the tech giant can pretty much dictate who’s allowed to say what on it.