Enter Anthony Elonis. A man who separated with his wife in 2010. Not long after the separation, Elonis began making continuing threats against this woman both subtly and directly to her. He then also began making threats to his coworkers. Needless to say, Mr. Elonis lost his job over it. Things only seemed to get worse for Elonis from that point as he began threatening the FBI agents who started to question him about the posts. Not long after the threats came to the FBI agents, did Elonis get arrested. After he was tried in court, he was convicted and found guilty by the jury for his threats.
Elonis plead that these threats were just jokes and "rap lyrics". Well now, this case has seen its way to the Supreme Court. No matter what the Supreme Court decides to do, it could change the way that all of our social media platforms perform & state their policies. See more here.
The police could easily become a bigger part of these "empty threats". Now some may think that this is more of an invasion of our privacy if this happens. The simple fact is that our social media apps and sites are trying to cover themselves regarding their legal liabilities involving statements posted on their platforms.
Honestly, I can't really blame them for thinking this way, as most of the services we use allow us free access to their services. Facebook, clearly being the most popular, has a bit more to worry about I would think as this particular social media service is where the case originated.
How would you feel if you knew that Facebook was going to alter their policies so that any time a post could be considered threatening, the police were allowed to intervene in some way shape or form? Now how would you feel if you were the one being threatened? Finally how do you think you'd feel if you were the one making the "threatening" posts?
One thing is for certain, this Elonis character made a HUGE mistake when he started making the threats towards the FBI. This man's questionable decisions could alter the way we post our opinions and thoughts on social media now and challenge our sense of free speech. I'd like to continue putting my opinion and thoughts on my Facebook page, personally. Threats will always be there. Cyber bullying will always be there. The trick is figuring out if there is anything to worry about or not. Most of the time, you can figure it out pretty quickly, and deal with it accordingly.
We can either be censored here, on social media, and be force to find/make another venue where we can speak freely about anything and everything, or we can just keep quiet and let this happen. And, honestly? I'm not too sure which are the lesser of the two evils.