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Jail Time and No Facebook? The California Crackdown



The State of California wants to stop prisoners from using Facebook and has asked the social media network to shut down the accounts of anyone who updates while incarcerated.

Is this constitutional? Forget that whole number about “free speech.” I’m thinking more about cruel and unusual punishment!

Department of Corrections officials believe that prisoners are using Facebook for nefarious means. NBC news investigated and found that one prisoner posted, “Listenin 2 sum music tryin 2 unwind.” This madness must stop.

In all seriousness, they also found evidence of harassment and it’s likely that there are worse offenders but that’s not a problem exclusive to the inmate population. There are plenty of free birds who use Facebook to attack others and troll for trouble. Facebook has systems to deal with these kinds of issues no matter who is behind them. Why not deal with offenders as they happen? Why ban every inmate across the board? And is that even possible?

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It seems like the Corrections Department is attacking the wrong end of the problem. They say that the updates are happening because thousands of inmates have mobile phones, which is a violation of prison rules. Doesn’t it make more sense to cut off the blackmarket phone sales than to shut down Facebook accounts? I mean, if we’re worried about what they’re doing on Facebook, what about Twitter? MySpace? The web in general?

You could argue that prisoners are being punished and so they shouldn’t have access to Facebook. Others could argue that having access to Facebook is punishment. But the bottom line is, can the government force a wholesale ban on Facebook accounts. Today it’s prisoners, tomorrow it’s military personnel and after that. . . ?

Let’s just call this something to think about the next time you update your status.

  • Blake

    They’re incarcerated, which means some of their rights are given up based on their past decisions and activities, just like going to school or working at a major corporation. Not sure why Facebook would need to control this though… How are the criminals accessing the internet? The prison’s servers? Can’t they just block sites just as a corporation would to prevent employees from wasting time on social networks and surfing offending websites?