In the US the Supreme Court is to consider a case of a man who wrote on Facebook “how he would like to murder his estranged wife; shoot up an elementary school; sneak into an amusement park he was fired from to wreak havoc; slit the throats of a female co-worker and a female FBI agent; and use explosives on the state police, the sheriff’s department, and any SWAT team that might come to his house. Elonis has never actually done any of these things, but he did spend the last three and a half years in prison for saying that he would.”
Carmel Deamicis comments: “It’s the first time the Supreme Court will rule regarding how virtual threats to an individual should be interpreted and treated in the eyes of the law. State and federal courts have not reached a consensus on what constitutes a legitimate online threat, subject to criminal punishment. Some courts have ruled that the intent of the person making the threat is what matters, while others have focused on the experience of the victim threatened. For the Supreme Court to take on this issue means there could finally be a definitive answer and a national precedent for prosecuting such cases. The issue is more pertinent now than ever, with social media becoming an integral part of people’s professional and personal lives. Unfortunately, virtual threats — when extend beyond just cyber bullying — are a real problem.”