U.S. top court throws out man's conviction for Facebook threats

From Reuters The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out the conviction of a Pennsylvania man who made threatening Facebook statements toward his estranged wife and others in a ruling that makes it tougher to prosecute people for using menacing language on social media.

The court ruled 8-1 in favor of Anthony Elonis in a case that explored the boundaries of free speech online.

The justices decided Elonis could not be convicted merely on the basis that a reasonable person might consider his comments threatening. The court instead said prosecution would be allowed under the federal law that he was accused of breaking only if Elonis himself intended his words as threats.

Elonis wrote the Facebook posts in 2010, when he was 27, after his wife left him. Written in the form of rap lyrics, he fantasized about killing her, knifing a female FBI agent and shooting schoolchildren. After a court granted his wife a protective order against him, Elonis posted: "Is it thick enough to stop a bullet?"

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