Gut Check: Making simple sense out of life
By Lenore Skomal Erie Times-News staff blogger
Lenore Skomal is an award-winning author and veteran journalist in all forms of media. She is a weekly columnist and daily blogger for the Erie Times-News. She’s authored 17 published books, including an anthology of her columns, Burnt Toast available on her website   Read more about this blog.
Posted: April 5th, 2012
Sex offenders banned from Facebook

Apparently, Facebook officials say there is a policy in place, dictating that no convicted sex offender be allowed to keep a Facebook page.

Facebook will routinely shut down pages of convicted sex offenders–well, those who use their real names to set up accounts and then get discovered. There are a bunch of pages on Facebook, devoted to censoring sex offenders and gathering public support behind the effort.

This clearly makes good horse sense, given the nature of social media today and the plethora of opportunities to stalk possible victims online.

But is it a violation of a person’s freedom of speech?

That’s the question at hand, at least in Louisiana, where a new attempt to rewrite a state law seeking to ban certain sex offenders from Facebook and other social networking sites is making its way through the legislature, following an earlier decision in February by a federal judge, striking down an existing law as a violation of First Amendment rights.

That law had banned the “unlawful use or access of social media,” which included “the using or accessing of social networking websites, chat rooms and peer-to-peer networks by a person who is required to register as a sex offender.” It provided serious punishments, including a 10-year sentence for a first offense.

The law was too broad, according to federal judge who labeled it unconstitutional. And constitutional scholars like David Hudson, agree that, even though its intent was well-meant, it would “in fact prohibit former sex offenders from reading many online newspapers, using Facebook or MySpace, or even accessing the federal court’s website.”

What do you think?



Posted in: Uncategorized

2 comments on “Sex offenders banned from Facebook

  1. sandee on said:

    I’m a little confused at Mr. Hudson’s statement. If Facebook wants to ban them, why would that “prohibit former sex offenders from many online newspapers…”? There are many ways to go directly to newspapers without going thru Facebook.
    I agree this would be hard to police, but I stand by Facebook’s decision, after all, it’s their product.

  2. Debbie Prince on said:

    what’s the point ? ANYONE can create a social networking page you may be able to ban a convicted sex offender but that same person will set up 1..2…3 or more pages under a fake name then who’s going to stop them?

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