US Supreme Court overturns NC sex offender social media ban

The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a North Carolina law prohibiting registered sex offenders from using Facebook or other social networking sites that minors can join.

The challenge was brought by Lester Gerard Parkingham Jr., a registered sex offender in North Carolina, who faced additional charges after Durham police found a Facebook page he created under an assumed name.

The case raised questions about whether such laws prohibit sex offenders from participating in web-based forums, which have become virtual town squares, as they re-enter society.

“This case is one of the first this Court has taken to address the relationship between the First Amendment and the modern Internet,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “As a result, the Court must exercise extreme caution before suggesting that the First Amendment provides scant protection for access to vast networks in that medium.”

The justices sent the case back to the state Supreme Court to reverse its earlier decision.

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