A court case involving a New Jersey mom with bipolar disorder has set a new precedent in the rules of social media expression. The case, according to an Associated Press article, stems from a 2011 ruling where a judge ordered that the woman refrain from making posts on Facebook about her family.
The order was a condition of the woman’s probation – for attempting to kidnap her two children and whisk them off to Canada – and became an issue after her ex-husband and his family complained about the content of the woman’s social media posts. Allegedly, the mom would consistently reference her husband and her children in disturbing Facebook rants that also mentioned the likes of Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Satan.
The woman obeyed the ruling for about a year before she started using the codeword “Camelot” to discuss matters of her husband’s family and her children. The judge found that these coded posts were a clear violation of the mom’s probation, a decision that she appealed by arguing that the original ruling had violated her rights of free speech anyway. The appellate panel, however, sided with the judge, deciding that the woman’s bipolar condition would be best rehabilitated if she weren’t allowed to rant about her family, and stating that she still had plenty of freedom in her Facebook posting.
The case and its “rehabilitation” point could influence future free speech cases in the social media sector. Typically, people have not been limited in what they are allowed to post about. But in deciding that this woman, her husband, and her children would be safer and better off if she refrained from posting family rants on Facebook, the court has set a precedent that could limit social media posting rights for certain troubled individuals in the future.