This article was published on June 2, 2015

Supreme Court rules online threats are legal unless there is clear intent to harm


Supreme Court rules online threats are legal unless there is clear intent to harm
Nate Swanner
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Nate Swanner

Former Reporter, TNW

TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If TNW's former West Coast writer in the PNW (Portland, Oregon). Nate loves amplifying developers, and codes in Swift when he's not writing. If you need to get in touch, Twitter is your best bet.

Spewing rage online still isn’t a good idea, but it’s not illegal according to new ruling by the US Supreme Court.

The Court overturned Anthony Elonis’ conviction for sharing hostile rap lyrics on Facebook, saying online threats must have clear intent to do harm.

Elonis had railed against his ex wife, coworkers, children and an FBI agent investigating him via Facebook, sharing what he called “therapeutic” rap lyrics. The overt hostility, according to the Supreme Court, failed to prove that he was actually planning malicious or harmful actions.

The 7-2 judgement overturns Elonis’ 44-month prison sentence and three years of probation, and sends it the case back to the lower court. The jurors in his original trial had been instructed to find him guilty if a “reasonable person” would consider his lyrical tirade as a serious expression of intent to do harm.

Supreme Court overturns conviction of man who wrote threatening notes to his ex on Facebook [Slate]