Fake Facebook Profiles Could Be Illegal in Pennsylvania

House Judiciary Committee representatives are set to vote this week on House Bill 2249, a bill that would make it a crime to impersonate someone on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter or through fake email addresses and text messages. The law is designed to make online bullying a criminal offense, though many are worried that it will cross privacy boundaries.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Katharine Watson, is adamant that the bill is not intended as an invasive piece of legislation.

“We’re not going to criminalize innocent, or what I would call stupid, behavior,” she said. “It’s if your intent is to defraud, intimidate, threaten or harass another person and cause them financial or personal harm.”

An amendment will be offered that will define the law more clearly, including exceptions for parody, commentary and satire. Still, as has been illustrated time and time again by Facebook’s refusal to take down offensive pages, comedy is in the eye of the beholder. It is very difficult to legally define was satire is.

House Judiciary Committee Minority Chairman, Rep. Tom Caltagirone, has expressed concerns about the scope of the bill and the free speech issues it will raise.

Recommended Resources

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