Should Sexual Predators Be Banned From Social Media?

North Carolina law currently makes it illegal for any registered sex offender to use social media. This week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from one man who was convicted of having a Facebook account under a law he claims is a violation of the First Amendment.

The state argues that sex offenders can use social media to find victims and thus they should be banned from using it. While this can certainly happen, people—including sex offenders—do a lot of other perfectly legal, non-harmful things on social media. Lawyers arguing against the NC law assert that the state cannot ban all types of speech simply because of the platform where it takes place; that would violate the constitution.

From my perspective, as someone who has studied social media since the moment it came into existence, these laws have a dated view of the role social media plays in our lives. There is no question that all kinds of illegal activity takes place online. However, laws like this one in North Carolina treat social media as some kind of special technology that is used for only certain types of communication. That is simply not the reality for most users.

Jennifer Golbeck, Ph.D., February, 2017, PsychologyToday



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