Texas Politicians Want To Make It A Felony To Create Intimidating Fake Online Profiles

from the if-you-intimidate,-please-be-real dept

The latest in a long line of questionable “cyberbullying” legislation has shown up in Texas, where the legislature has approved a bill that would make it a felony to create a fake social networking profile with intent to “harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten” anyone. Of course, that seems rather broad. Oddly, the article doesn’t mention the Lori Drew case (Update: actually, it does mention Lori Drew at the bottom… but says this law wouldn’t apply, because it only applies to fake profiles of “real people”), though, it does mention the Tony La Russa/Twitter legal battle, even though it’s difficult to think any court would rule a parody profile as being with intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten. Of course, even if the bill is signed into law, Eric Goldman notes that it would likely have trouble surviving much of a challenge, pointing out the oddity of singling out “social networking sites” and (more importantly) the fact that any such law would likely ban all sorts of protected free speech. Still, “anti-cyberbullying” laws are all the rage these days, and politicians want to make sure they can tell constituents that they’re out there “protecting the children,” so expect to see plenty more of this type of legislation.

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Comments on “Texas Politicians Want To Make It A Felony To Create Intimidating Fake Online Profiles”

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26 Comments
Fake Profiles R Us says:

Re: You are a moron

Anonymous Coward sez:

How they would enforce it, who knows? The idea is pretty good though. The wild west mentality of the net needs a little toning down.

Okay genius, start by giving all of us your real name, address, phone number, email addresses, and other relevant info. The wild west mentality of the net needs a little toning down, and we want to start with you.

Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile) says:

What article did you read?

Oddly, the article doesn’t mention the Lori Drew case…

Umm…the article you linked to did mention the Lori Drew case. It said that the law would not be applicable in that situation because the fake profile was not an actual person. It seems the legislation is aimed at making it illegal for someone else to make a profile impersonating another actual person and using it for said purposes. More of an identity theft thing. But I still see issues with the parody profiles or the freedom of a *sucks profile. Sure these could “harm”, as you said, very broad and will open up to definition and feed the lawyers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Step 1:
Understand that Texas doesn’t report anything negative pertaining to Republicans, and this affects their world view. (This is odd, considering the current state of affairs in Texas.)

Step 2:
Research and realize that the police in Texas are more crooked than the criminals they lock up and the judges they appoint. Look into Marshall, TX.

Step 3:
Realize that the past 8 years were done under Texas Law.

Step 3:
Understand that Texas views, as shaped by the media (see #1), are not the views of America as a whole.

Step 4:
Create profiles like ‘mmasnick’ when they first come available. Use the name Mich Masnickoloski with passwords like ‘carlocarlocarlo’ This is only done at websites that they own. More of a term of endearment than anything else. See what they do.

Step 5:
Show America how Fucked up Texas is.

Step 6:
Support Texas Succession.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Unsupported Judgement by a liberal AC

Step 8:

Realize anything labeled “Texas” such as
“Texas” Toast,
“Texas” BBQ,
“Texas” Asshat,
“Texas” Waffles,
“Texas” Ego,
“Texas” Justice

Is really, a ploy to find out how willing you are to give up what you believe in.

Yes, everything is bigger in Texas. Especially the women. Tell me about your woman, Chuck? Does she Toast/BBQ/Asshat much?

Jorge says:

Not Infringe Free Speech

Actually, dude, it does NOT infringe free speech. While anonymous speech is protected, pretending to be someone else is not, and never has been constitutionally protected.

Defamation, for example, is not protected by the First Amendment. Likewise, false light (a form of invasion of privacy) is also not protected (Pretending to be someone online usually covers that), b/c the First Amendment does not protect false speech.

Note: the difference between defamation and false light is (1) defamation must harm the target’s representation and (2) only requires an audience of one third party — false light requires a widespread dissemination of the misleading/false statements, but those statements don’t have to harm the target.

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