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Ban On Sex Offenders' Use Of Social Media Upheld

The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled on Friday that registered sex offenders in North Carolina cannot use social media websites.

The ruling overturns a Court of Appeals decision two years ago that ruled unconstitutional the state law that bans registered sex offenders from accessing social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook. That law was passed by the General Assembly in 2008. In 2010, a convicted sex offender named Lester Gerard Packingham was convicted in Durham and placed on probation for having a Facebook page. In Packingham’s appeal, the court ruled that the state law was vague and stepped on the First Amendment by violating Packingham’s and other registered sex offenders’ right to freedom of speech and association through social media.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper, who pushed the General Assembly to pass the law, asked the courts to revisit that decision. He said just as the law bars convicted sex offenders from living or working near schools, it should also protect children online. The court agreed in a unanimous decision.