SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments this week on a case involving free speech and social media.
The case will focus on what constitutes as a criminal threat on social media. Billy Raymond Counterman of Colorado was convicted of stalking a singer-songwriter for six years, starting in 2010. The court found counterman’s social media messages to be “true threats” while counterman argues his online messages are protected by free speech.
He took the case to the court of appeals, which upheld the decision, and now it’s being taken up by the Supreme Court. According to local attorney, James B. Winston, it will likely be a challenging case. “It’s this balancing act of how much free speech versus somebody’s right not to have threats, harassments or political influence online,” says Winston.
Attorney Winston added that there are additional cases in Florida and Texas set for this week pertaining to laws barring online platforms from taking down certain political information, as far as the counterman case goes, the nation’s highest court will be tasked with determining what must be proven in court to convict someone of a “true threat” made online.