How First Amendment Battles Are Shaping Up in the Social Media Age

September 14, 2017Media Mention
The Hollywood Reporter

The U.S. Supreme Court recently acknowledged the importance of social media in finding that a North Carolina law barring registered sex offenders like plaintiff Lester Packingham from the sites is unconstitutional. "While in the past there may have been difficulty in identifying the most important places (in a spatial sense) for the exchange of views, today the answer is clear," wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy in the June 19 opinion. "It is cyberspace — the 'vast democratic forums of the Internet' in general, and social media in particular."

During oral arguments in that case Justice Elena Kagan asked whether being banned from social media kept Packingham from having access to the president's Twitter account. "All 50 governors, all 100 senators, every member of the House has a Twitter account," said Kagan. "So this has become a crucial — crucially important channel of political communication."

To complicate matters, Trump has two Twitter accounts, the official @POTUS handle and @realDonaldTrump. It's the latter, which has 18 million more followers, that's at issue here. Former federal prosecutor and current Greenberg Glusker litigator Priya Sopori says there's a fine line between representing yourself and your employer on the internet, and the savvy use of social media demands good judgment.

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