Social media threats bill unanimously passes House

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Under the bill, a Florida law about written threats would be expanded to include social media posts.

A bill to expand a criminal statute about threatening language passed the House today 116-0.

The bill would make threatening language posted on social media a felony crime. There was no debate over the bill during the floor session.

“This bill modernizes the written threats statutes to clarify the transmission and posting of an electronic threat,” Rep. John Snyder said.

A Senate companion bill (SB 1850) passed its final committee Wednesday, but not without pushback.

The opposition in the Senate Rules Committee centered around the fact that online posts can sometimes lose the context of speech or written language.

Under the House version (HB 921), a Florida law about written threats would be expanded to include social media posts. Florida law currently says threats posted online must be directly messaged in order for the threat to be considered a criminal act.

For example, if a user makes a Snapchat post that threatens someone, under current Florida law, that threat is not considered a criminal act. But if a user direct messages that threat to a person it would be.

A credible written threat can get a person saddled with a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Despite the lack of specificity in current Florida law, there was a criminal case in the state in 2013, in which a man was convicted for a threatening Facebook post. In that instance the trial court ruled that the defendant’s post was considered a direct communication to anyone who was authorized to view the comment.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected].


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