Blog Posts: Social Media

Protecting Domestic Violence Victims or Depriving the World of the Next Eminem?: A Brief Examination of Elonis v. United States

Picture this, you marry someone you love and start creating a life together. Eventually, you have two children together, whom you adore, but eventually, your marital relationship begins to suffer and the two of you are arguing more often and decide to divorce.

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No Comments | Posted by Jenica D. Hughes on Wed. March 30, 2016 12:10 PM
Categories: Court Rulings, Freedom of Speech, Social Media

Coping With Unprecedented Connectivity: Citizens and Police

On April 4, 2015, a North Charleston Police Officer shot and killed Walter Scott. Michael Shlager, the responding officer, reported that he pulled Scott over for a broken tail light. Scott fled on foot and Shlager pursued. Shlager claimed that Scott grabbed Shlager’s Taser and that Shlager shot Scott in self-defense. A bystander’s video showed a conflict far different than Officer Shlager’s report. The video shows Officer Shlager shooting an unarmed Walter Scott in the back as Walter Scott ran away. The video also shows the officer walk back to where the scuffle occurred, pick an object off of the ground and drop it near Scott’s body, many believe this unidentified object was Shlager’s Taser. The sad case of Walter Scott and Michael Shlager shows both the growing importance of video footage as evidence and as a means to hold police officers accountable for their misdeeds.



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No Comments | Posted by Alexander H. French (Alex) on Wed. March 23, 2016 1:55 PM
Categories: Freedom of the Press, Social Media


With the advent of the Internet, an entirely new realm of libel law has emerged in the courts, forcing judges to examine entirely new questions of Internet vigilantism and how to deal with crimes in a digital world.   Defamation, 20 N.C. Index 4 th  Libel and Slander  §  1, includes the two separate torts of libel and slander. This blog will focus specifically on the libel associated with Walter Palmer and Cecil the Lion.
No Comments | Posted by Elizabeth A. Kapopoulos on Mon. February 29, 2016 3:26 PM
Categories: Court Rulings, Freedom of Speech, Social Media

Virginia Prosecutors Refuse to Bar Defendant Blogging

Earlier this month a Virginia judge declined to prohibit defendant Linda Cheek’s use of social media to advance her personal, professional beliefs relating to her impending trial. According to The Roanoke Times, prosecutors requested that U.S. District Judge, Glen Conrad, prevent defendant, Dr. Linda Sue Cheek, from blogging and tweeting about her legal proceedings for fear that these Internet postings could improperly influence potential jurors.

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No Comments | Posted by Candra K. Baizan on Sun. February 24, 2013 8:15 AM
Categories: Social Media

How Far Are We Willing To Go To Catch a Predator?

Since the advent of social media ranging from basic chat rooms to websites dedicated solely to making connections with friends and strangers, the American public has been cautioned against predators online. Parents are told to carefully monitor their children’s activity online and be wary of older cyberpredators posing as peers of their children in an attempt to become close to minors, and occasionally even solicit sexual contact. There has even been a television show entitled To Catch A Predator that chronicles undercover sting operations designed to entrap and arrest online predators by using decoys with the help of a watchdog group called Perverted Justice.

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No Comments | Posted by Catherine A. McCormick on Thu. February 14, 2013 9:27 AM
Categories: Social Media

Libel per se: The First Amendment and Limited Recourse for Public Officials

Scholars have long recognized the marketplace of ideas rationale for the immunity that citizens of the United States enjoy from liability for expressive speech. This theory was addressed by Justice Holmes in his dissent in Abrams v. United States in which he stated: “when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe . . . that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas . . .”. The introduction of the doctrine of seditious libel, however, undercut this foundational First Amendment theory and buttressed a controversial First Amendment limitation: that is, the extent to which opinion speech, political or otherwise, can be suppressed when it fallaciously brings a public official into disrepute. When an opinion contributes little value to advancing public debate or transaction of ideas, the expression itself arguably becomes subordinate to the substantial interest a public official has in being insulated from reputational harm.

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No Comments | Posted by Gina C. LeBlanc on Sun. February 3, 2013 11:03 AM
Categories: Libel per se, Social Media

Social Media and Teachers’ First Amendment Rights

New York City guidance school counselor Tiffani Webb was fired from her job at Murry Bergtraum High School after racy photos of her in lingerie showed up on the Internet. Although this is only the latest in a recent string of educators losing their jobs for online behavior, Webb’s situation is slightly different; the pictures were taken over seventeen years ago, before she became a government employee. Additionally, as the Huffington Post reports, she disclosed her previous modeling career before she was hired by the Department of Education twelve years ago. She had been investigated three times by the DoE, but due to her excellent reviews and track record had always been cleared to work again. In December 2011, just days before she was to be tenured, Webb was fired for “conduct unbecoming” of a DoE employee. A three person panel cited the fact that “[t]he inappropriate photos were a accessible to impressionable adolescents,” in dismissing Webb. She is now suing the Department of Education for wrongful termination, sex discrimination, and violation of her First Amendment rights.

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No Comments | Posted by Samantha L. Thompson on Mon. October 22, 2012 8:53 AM
Categories: Social Media

Empty Threats? Social Media, National Security, and the First Amendment

Last week brought President Barack Obama to North Carolina for the Democratic National Convection (“DNC”), and with his arrival came the expected security concerns—run of the mill political protests and direct physical threats come to mind first. But it’s 2012, and things are different now.

The day before the DNC began, a 21-year-old named Donte Jamar Sims tweeted, “Ima hit president Obama with that Lee Harvey Oswald swag,” and "The Secret Service is gonna be defenseless once I aim the Assault Rifle at Barack's Forehead." According to court documents and CNN, a Secret Service intelligence research specialist discovered the tweets. If Sims is convicted of threatening the President, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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No Comments | Posted by Alexandra M. Tronolone on Mon. September 10, 2012 4:50 PM
Categories: Social Media

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