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Should convicted sex offenders be allowed on Facebook?

December 8, 2009

 

Who are you really talking to on Facebook?

Who are you really talking to on Facebook?

 

After reading the title of this post, you probably had an immediate gut reaction something along the lines of, “Of course they shouldn’t. We have to protect the children on that site.” I’m not saying I disagree with that sentiment, but there is a big part of me that has an opposite argument. Please allow me to explain.

Last week, I read this article which talked about how some New York legislation aided Facebook and MySpace in deleting the accounts of registered sex offenders. And at first glance, this seems like a really great idea. I mean, who wouldn’t feel safer (for themselves and for the youth of the world) after hearing that news? But the more I thought about it, I didn’t like what I was reading.

Hear me out on this. These people referred to in the article are registered sex offenders. This means that they have served their jail time, were released back into society and made to have their names forever listed in readily available databases as a convicted sex offender. One of the great things about this nation of ours is that once someone has finished the punishment for their crimes, they are able to be reinstated into society. As far as I am aware, they do not lose any constitutional rights as a result of having been incarcerated. Therefore, they should still have the same freedom of speech as the rest of us. 

It could easily be argued that social networking sites are one of the biggest means of communication in today’s society. Access to these sites grants people an open podium for personal speech, among other things. How is it, then, that we can tell people who completed their court-assigned jail sentence that they have forfeited their first amendment rights? Can freed, convicted murderers have Facebook accounts? Are released arsonists allowed to roam MySpace pages?

Again, I fully understand and see the great value in not allowing convicted sex offenders to potentially stalk new victims via the web. But doesn’t anyone else see how this completely violates some of the core principles of our Constitution? Please, weigh in on this for me ’cause I need to take a step back and hear someone else’s point of view.

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