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Can a Court Order You To Delete a Facebook Account? 761

Posted by timothy
from the seems-even-worse-than-no-internet-orders dept.
First time accepted submitter jaymz666 writes "Can a court really order you to delete a Facebook account? When Asher initially appeared in court after the July 20 accident, the judge told her to delete her Facebook account, Kittinger said. Asher did not take it seriously, and was charged with contempt of court when the judge learned her Facebook page was still active. Seems like a big overreach."
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Can a Court Order You To Delete a Facebook Account?

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  • overreach (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Danathar (267989) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:50AM (#41399313) Journal

    It's like constitutionality and the supreme court. What the court says is constitutional IS constitutional, regardless of what anybody else thinks.

    The same applies here (except for the fact that a higher court can say otherwise).

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @09:59AM (#41399427)

    I presume they would be satisfied with deactivation, or indeed, with her simply not using it. In TFA, it says they threw her in the can because she literally posted "LOL" about her DUI on FB after having been instructed to not use FB and the families of her victims noticed it. Presumably, even its continued existence on the Internet was not a problem as long as she wasn't communicating with it.

  • Re:Probably (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FictionPimp (712802) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:07AM (#41399601) Homepage

    They did this to Kevin Mitnick. He was initially forbidden to use any communications technology other than a landline telephone. Mitnick fought this decision in court, eventually winning a ruling in his favor, allowing him to access the Internet.

    Seems like a similar type punishment. I bet it won't be hard for a good lawyer to change the ruling as it falls under unusual punishment. You could claim facebook is a requirement for getting a job (which in some fields it is), that it would put a undo burden on you, or even that there is no basis for the punishment and the judge is violating her freedom of speech.

    The lady involved in this case is a horrible person, but her rights to let everyone know she's a horrible person should not be infringed.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:08AM (#41399611) Journal

    The rather lightweight description in TFA (stupid sound-bite TV journalism) makes it sound like the order to "delete" her FB account was at her first court appearance (arraignment?). I'm not sure if there was a specific condition to the judge's order (like a bail condition), or if the judge just issued an order cold and expected it to stick.

    However, it's not like there isn't precedent for a judge to issue an order supressing freedom of speech [wikipedia.org] early in a court proceeding. The rationale may be completely different, but the mechanism is basically the same.

  • Re:Probably (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:13AM (#41399701) Journal

    I have seen no data on gun proliferation that indicates that allowing guns into the hands of law-abiding citizens increases murder rates. It does increase death in assaults and home-invasions.

    In places like Detroit or Washington DC or Baltimore City where legal gun ownership is basically non-existent, the huge amount of gun proliferation results in an armed criminal element and a disarmed citizenry. This creates a power dynamic whereby criminals have much more control and can be abusive. In truth, a lot of murders seem to be between criminals--they wind up shooting each other in gang turf arguments. They're actually afraid to pull their guns on private citizens, because the gun crime charge is like 10 times worse than the armed robbery charge (you can get 20 years for using a gun as a prop to threaten someone, whereas you may get thrown in jail for 2 years if you rob someone at knife point).

    In places like Texas and Florida, murder rate is lower; however 'justifiable homicide' happens more. Basically when someone gets attacked, they shoot back. This means more shootings happen between crazies and less between bullies who think they're malendrine gangster mafioso. The insecure, up-tight morons are a hell of a lot more insecure when people can shoot back; a gunshot draws attention and when everyone in the area has guns and is afraid mostly of being shot but feels like they can shoot you first, they all come looking for you. At least, the theory is strong enough that people believe it and are hesitant to pull out a gun. It's lose-lose: if you don't shoot someone, they might have a gun, and might shoot you (this is fucking hard to do--why would you pull your gun out if the other guy ALREADY has a gun pointed at you?!); if you do shoot them, someone might come looking to see if everyone's alright, and they might find you, and they might have guns.

    On top of all that, we have this whole culture thing going on. Look at the death penalty deterrent. In Texas, it's not much of a deterrent because you'll probably be dead before you make it to the court if you're planning on killing someone. In South Dakota, it's not much of a deterrent for unknown reasons. In Wisconsin, also for unknown reasons, when they abolished capital punishment they had murder rates quadrupal in 2 years, and re-instated it to get the murder rates back down.

    The same principle applies to gun ownership: local cultural factors will affect how people behave with guns. If they're all insecure hicks who think only of themselves, anything off their property is not their responsibility (no one comes to help you) and anyone on their property needs killin'; if they're more communal, guns simply make people feel empowered and they believe they have a social responsibility, and they use their guns to protect others when other (bad people) bring out their guns to harm innocents. There's a huge gradient between, there's crazy people, people who don't care, people who are paranoid, and people who are just inborn heroes.

    I don't think any country can call itself "civilized" when it decides the best way to handle society is to put the common man into a power-disadvantaged lower class. There are bullies and there are victims, and if we make all the common people victims then the bullies get to be kings by abusing people. We should be teaching men and women to fight and to not be afraid, not to cower in fear and leave everyone else to die if they can save themselves from harm. Humans are weak and useless, individual humans have no survival traits; we need to function in groups to live.

  • Re:Taunting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FictionPimp (712802) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:17AM (#41399769) Homepage

    Because being put in jail for a crime doesn't violate your freedom of speech. Being forced to delete your facebook posts/account does.

    If it was facebook who deleted her account, that would be ok with me. It's up to them to decide what kind of speech they want on their servers. But the government has no right to moderate speech unless it is causing a immediate and local danger (fire in a theater). This is the same with the video causing all that trouble in the middle east. Yes, the government could take it down, but doing so violates the core principle of this country.

    People look at idiots spewing hate as a bad thing. I look at it as a nice big poster that helps me separate out the idiots from the people worth spending my time with. In any case get a double dose of information. For example, with that anti-muslim video you learn that there are a few people in america who are douche bags and you learn that there are many many more 'muslims' in the middle east who are out of control, immoral, violent, murders just looking for excuses to bring their hate to the rest of the world. In the case of this ladies facebook post, you learn she is immature, immoral, and non-repentant. Basically, she's a horrible person. So if I was ever to meet her, I'd know to stay clear.

  • by Penguinisto (415985) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:22AM (#41399847) Journal

    I can't disagree with the logic, but something still stinks about how deeply into one's personal life and activities a judge can go.

    Hypothetical extreme example: If you met a girl at a bar, went to bed with her, only to discover later (via arrest) that she was jailbait, and a judge demanded that you get a castration in order to avoid 10-15 years in prison, would you do it? Many (I daresay most) would, while others would not.

    Thing is, it's not that it gets you out of jail faster - it's that the punishment itself is unusual, which is constitutionally out-of-bounds. In other words, the judge had no constitutional right or authority to order (let alone enforce) such a thing as punishment.

    One other bit: I submit that local judges, far more than state/federal ones, are more prone to viciousness, petty abuses, and vindictiveness - especially in more rural areas, where there is no competition and/or chance of losing one's job to a misconduct charge. If there's going to be judicial abuse, odds are good that it'll happen on the lower levels far easier than the upper ones.

  • Re:Probably (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FictionPimp (712802) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:40AM (#41400139) Homepage

    Really, that's the argument you are going to with, a fallacy of accident. It is reasonable to assume that someone who commits a crime is punished and that punishment labels them as a criminal. However, the law has shown that there are limits to punishment if they cause a undo burden on a person. These typically come in the form of unusual or extreme punishments.

    For example, it is customary and reasonable to suspend a drivers license for habitual speeders and people with DUIs. But, if that suspension would cost them their livelihoods, it is also typically considered unreasonable to not give them a permit to drive to and from work. This prevents undo burden on the criminal and allows them the chance to actually become a healthy member of society given that they can work within that framework and follow the rule of law.

    Likewise it would have been reasonable for the judge to order this lady to not post on facebook content relating to the crime or trial. It is unusual, and creates a undo burden to take away her access entirely and permanently (not to mention unconstitutionally depriving her of her speech) simple because he didn't like what she had to say. Therefore I would argue it is indeed unusual punishment, it puts a burden on her for a crime that is wholly and completely different than almost every other drunk driver (in fact I can't think of another case).

  • Re:Probably (Score:5, Interesting)

    by coolmoose25 (1057210) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:55AM (#41401333)
    Here's the problem with your logic on capital punishment. I live in Connecticut, which has recently repealed the death penalty. Here is the reality: Before it was repealed, when a heinous crime was committed, the defendant was charged with the capital crime. They would be told by the prosecutor the state would seek the death penalty. In some cases, this was enough to get the defendant to plead to a lower crime, with life in prison without possibility of parole as the agreed punishment. This made sure that the perp never again would terrorize the public. And it was cheaper. In other cases, the state would pursue the death penalty because the crime was so particularly heinous. Google "Cheshire CT Murder" and you'll see the case where two career criminals, with an average of 20 felony convictions each, decided to rape and murder a mother and two teenage daughters because they "liked their car" and followed them home. This crime was so infamous, that even though the state had elected a democrat governor with a democrat legislature, they could not pass the repeal as the political backlash would have been too great. They waited until the next year when the defendants had been sentenced to death before repealing the death penalty for NEW capital crimes.

    After it has been repealed, here is what has happened. With the death penalty off the table, the state could only seek life in prison without possibility of parole as it's biggest gun. So defendants now plead out to the lesser crimes with 25 year sentences instead, and are now eligible for parole. As such, there is no really good way of getting someone put away for life without bearing the previous cost of the death penalty cases, with their costly trials and endless appeals. So in reality, the state has saved no money, but now puts murders back on the street at some point. And the biggest irony is that existing death row inmates are now petitioning for their sentences to be reduced to life without parole under the equal treatment clauses under the constitution. This is still outstanding, but it is likely they will prevail. And the two murderers in Cheshire? Well, they are not yet a party to that case, as they are having their cases appealed first. Once that is done, and their appeals are denied, they'll attach themselves to this litigation, and I predict that their sentences will be reduced as well.

    The fact of the matter is that none of this will save any money. The fact of the matter is that the old system worked well, since Connecticut never actually executed its death row inmates, except in one case where the murderer essentially committed state suicide by demanding his execution, and even then he had to represent himself, as no lawyer wanted to make that case for him. Other than him, Connecticut hadn't actually killed anyone for decades. But heinous criminals were kept behind bars for life, without the possibility of parole boards, early release programs, etc. releasing these monsters back into society.

    But we're all better off now, right? Yeah, I agree. Now lets go gun shopping!
  • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:16PM (#41401643) Homepage Journal
    I've mostly suggested streamlining the appeals process, eliminating some of the duplication of effort, and restricting the death penalty to the 'worst offenders'. We're not just talking 1st degree murder. My general standard is '3 or more killed, or deliberate torture in addition to the murder'. You don't try to sentence a 60 year old doctor who killed his wife by poison after catching her cheating to death. You go for the under 25 year old gangbanger 'executioner' who killed 6 people with his bare hands with that sentence. The second isn't containable in a minimum security prison, the first is.

    The reason the death penalty is flat out wrong is quite simple. It isn't just that you are being hypocritical about the morality of killing, it is also that you are murdering innocent people.

    In any group of convicted murderers, there are going to be some people who are innocent. That's just a fact. People (juries) make mistakes. So some number of people you put to death are going to be innocent. It might be one in a hundred or one in ten thousand, but they are going to be there regardless of your degree of diligence. And when 15 years later, when new evidence comes to light as it seems to with alarmingly frequency, you can't just let them out of jail with an apology.

    Whenever I talk to pro-death penalty people, I ask them if they would still support the death penalty if they or one of their loved ones was one of those one in a thousand cases where an innocent person was wrongly convicted, I have yet to hear a convincing 'yes'. Are you so strong in your belief of the value of capitol punishment that you would be willing to die to support it? Would you stand outside the prison when your child was executed with a sign that says, 'Fry the bastard', when you knew they were only guilty of not having a good alibi and a good lawyer?
  • Re:Probably (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:25PM (#41401773) Journal

    No, I have a functional human brain and those are capable of emulating other functional human brains. It's a critical socialization skill, granted my social skills are crap--I'm slow and work with masses and general trends rather than individuals, and I don't lie (though I get a lot of specific data wrong and have to keep learning) and have too much of a conscience.

    Interestingly, a large part of human behavior is concealing or altering the truth, including projecting false feelings--the dating scene is impossible, for example, if you're always up-front that you really don't have any serious feelings for one girl over another, but this one seems nice and it's a good chance and you've accepted that you have to close one opportunity to open another and so you're going to date her. Seriously, I've met three girls that I was interested in because, for whatever reason, nobody else would do and I just REALLY wanted that particular girl, and you know even super-studs and plain old normal people have a LOT of misses among the dozen or so girlfriends they have. That behavior is ... incorrect, and rather extreme.

    In the same way, a lot of human behavior involves projecting an interest in things you don't half care about; confidence you don't have; and just over-stating your opinions. This is the core of sales and marketing. This is why people talk tough, go through with things they're shaky on but they look like they believe their own moronic bullshit, and then wind up upside down in the air on a motorcycle heading for a mound of dirt and mud like a retard with wings. People want to fit in, want to be accepted, respected, and rewarded. Dating a girl you don't honestly care about but telling her you do is a good way to get sex--doubly so if you're well aware that the relationship is much more temporary than you're saying, because you can play the I-have-a-girlfriend chip on chicks at the bar and nail some floozies. Hanging out with your guy friends drinking shitty beer and watching football is great even if you don't like football, because your guy friends would think you're lame otherwise and "male bonding" is about being the coolest guy in the group. It just goes on.

    People think so much about what others think about them. It's pretty much built-in. I'm not saying there aren't crazy people, or even that people aren't over-confident or so insecure that they will do things that should frighten them because they're more afraid of being scared. I'm just saying, you know, the more you think the people around you WILL find you and WILL kill you if you do something, the more terrifying doing that something becomes. If it's just "that guy probably has a gun," you engineer the situation to where he can't use it...maybe just shoot him outright. Nobody else is going to come looking. If it's more "everyone in town is going to have their gun out when they hear the gunshot, they're going to look for people leaving the area, the police will NEVER stop looking for me," and so on, there is no way in hell you're going to commit crimes with a gun--and if you mug someone who has a gun they might SHOOT YOU so maybe you won't do that at all.

    Your brain is going to try to figure out how to interact with these people; your goals might be shitty and criminal, but if everyone's behavior just screams "WE WILL FIND YOU AND WE WILL KILL YOU," you're not going to do shit like that. Not unless something is severely wrong with you. Being a "criminal" isn't wrong, strictly speaking; it's viable if you can do it without getting caught and it supports your life in a way that's acceptable. Some of us don't care about plush couches. Some of us aren't even driven much plainly by sex; others are ALWAYS thinking about sex, to a ridiculous degree. Problem comes in when you face something where every indication says what in your life you require to be "comfortable" is destroyed, and you do it anyway--at that point, something is wrong with you.

    By the by, method actors make a career out of us

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:33PM (#41401899)

    The reason the death penalty is flat out wrong is quite simple. It isn't just that you are being hypocritical about the morality of killing, it is also that you are murdering innocent people.

    The question you are ignoring is, is the death penalty a deterrent against murder? If it's not a deterrent, then you've made your point. If it is a deterrent, then by refusing to execute, how many random innocent people have you sentenced to a grisly brutal death?

  • Re:Probably (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @01:05PM (#41402355) Journal
    Logical process works pretty well, but doesn't always cut it. Then again, a lot of "researched scientific facts" passed around in "education" are dogmatic bullshit, to the point that experts in the field don't believe them. Sometimes, experts in the field believe the dogmatic bullshit, and are regularly proven wrong, and nobody cares. For example: "Security always makes things harder" is a core concept in computer security. I've seen someone argue that ssh is inherently harder than telnet because, get this, you have to re-train telnet users to type 'ssh' instead of 'telnet'. What?

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