Facebook Threats: the Missed Opportunities of Elonis V. United States

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When the Supreme Court of the United States reversed the conviction of a man who posted vile, threatening messages on Facebook, it concluded that the federal law used to prosecute him lacked the necessary level of intent. In effect, the Court stopped there, saying it was “not necessary to consider any First Amendment issues.” In considering the Court's adoption of judicial minimalism in Elonis v. United States, this article suggests that, even within that framework, there existed chances to explore relevant issues. This included advancing a better understanding of the seriousness of cyber threats. In spite of embracing the importance of context in evaluating this and other cases, the Court rejected the opportunity to provide important perspective. Proscribing true threats does not compromise free speech values; it enhances them. The ideas of free speech and civilized speech can coexist.,

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-37
Number of pages37
JournalCommunication Law and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Law


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