Congressman Sues Twitter
The Washington Post has an article discussing a recent lawsuit filed by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) who claims “that Twitter, two parody Twitter accounts and a Republican political consultant violated the First Amendment and defamed him.” Most people familiar with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act realize that the congressman is unlikely to succeed in his lawsuit. However, according to the article, it appears that Congressman Nunes long term goal may not necessarily include winning his suit but rather laying the groundwork for future legal form i.e., getting the Supreme Court to reevaluate the standard for defaming public officials.
Judicial failure to recognize social media’s influence on juror decision making has identifiable constitutional implications. The Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial demands that courts grant a defendant’s change of venue motion when media-generated pretrial publicity invades the unbiased sensibility of those who are asked to sit in judgment. Courts limit publicity suitable for granting a defendant’s motion to information culled from newspapers, radio, and television reports. Since about 2014, however, a handful of defendants have introduced social media posts to support their claims of unconstitutional bias in the community. Despite defendants’ introduction of negative social media in support of their claims, these same courts have yet to include social media in their evaluation of pretrial publicity bias. But social media is media, and as this article demonstrates, trial court judges faced with deciding change of venue motions have a constitutional obligation to include social media in their evaluations.
The collective refusal to treat social media the same as biased television, radio, or print media, suggests an erroneous assumption on the part of lower courts that social media is somehow different. This article identifies three reasons as justification for dismissing social media: social media is too recent a medium to fully understand and analyze, social media is not a legitimate news source, and social media is opinion based. Application of pretrial social media publicity to long-standing Supreme Court change of venue doctrine, coupled with its exploration of scientific and social research on social media influence, debunk these lower court rationalizations.
This article demonstrates that the reluctance of courts to consider social media evidence when deciding whether to grant a motion for a change of venue is a violation of any defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial. On a larger scale, the article demands that courts embrace our new reality. Social media intersects with criminal justice, and our daily lives, in ways that demand judicial recognition.
Facebook Under Criminal Investigation
The hits for Facebook just keep coming. The latest set back for the company was announced this week and came in the form of a criminal investigation. According to media reports, a New York federal criminal grand jury is looking into whether Facebook broke the law when it entered into data deals with some of the largest technology companies in the world. The agreements, which have been phased out over the last two years, allowed companies to see a Facebook users’ friends, contact information, and other data. This sharing of information occurred at times without user consent.
Forcing Someone Off Twitter
The Verge has an article about whether Elon Musk can be forced to give up Twitter. As some are aware, Elon has gotten into trouble with some of his tweets and he might be well served to give Twitter a rest at least for a while. However, the article, which raises some very interesting First Amendment issues, poses the question of whether a judge could actually order Elon to give up Twitter.
Lawyers, Social Media, and Emojis
Here is another story of a lawyer improperly using social media. This case may also be the first example of an unethical use of an emoji.
Chicago Police and Social Media
The ACLU recently issued a press release calling for the Chicago police to halt its monitoring of citizens on social media until a public hearing on the topic can be held. The ACLU is involved in active litigation over the police department’s use of social media to track and investigate Chicago residents.
NY Has a New Revenge Porn Law
New York lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill to outlaw “revenge porn,” a practice that victims say can alter their lives as drastically as any other form of abuse, but from which there are few of the same protections.
The bill’s passage was long awaited, and for many victims, long overdue.
In an era of social media ubiquity and the permanence of the internet, revenge porn, the nonconsensual sharing of sexually explicit photos or videos, has emerged as an increasingly potent weapon. The images can follow victims for years, turning up when employers or romantic partners search for their names on the internet…to continue reading go here.