“Social media has created a slew of new issues in the courts and forced judges to ponder the legal import of postmodern concepts like Facebook friends and Instagram followers. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Packingham v. North Carolina that social media platforms are the new ‘public square,’ and access to them is protected by the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there are no limitations on how social media can be used when an ex-convict is on probation. For example, a California state appeals court just found in AA v. The People that a ‘narrowly tailored’ limit on social media use for a juvenile on probation—in this case for a felony offense—was legal for rehabilitation purposes and to protect a crime victim. (It is common for adults and juveniles serving probation for a felony offense to have many limitations imposed on their conduct and communications as part of the terms of conditional release.)” This ruling, and others that will inevitably follow it, will set the precedent for what is permissible or impermissible for many law enforcement and justice department actions surrounding a persons’s online activity, communications, and expression.
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