Social Media and the First Amendment
Social media is everywhere in today’s society. It has become a major outlet for those who want to connect with the world. Many see this as a way for them to express their First Amendment right of freedom of speech. However, there are certain situations where the right of free speech does not apply. So where do we draw the line of what is allowed under freedom of speech?
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court had to tackle this question. The case concerns Anthony Elonis who was convicted of making threats against his ex-wife, and an FBI agent. After his wife left him Elonis began posting about her on his Facebook page in the form of rap lyrics, “There’s one way to love ya, but a thousand ways to kill ya, And I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess…” Elonis’s wife, Tara, felt threatened and obtained a restraining order that barred her estranged husband from threatening, or harassing her, even indirectly. Elonis, though, continued his posts. The next posts included references to seeing his ex-wife physically harmed, alluded to becoming famous through school shootings, and harming law enforcement officers.
At Elonis’s trial, he claims he was just venting his frustrations through rapping and argued that he said explicitly on his Facebook page that he was only exercising his First Amendment right to free speech. He also claimed that it is not hard to find other rappers whose lyr...