Image via WikipediaCharleston (S.C.) Democrat Rep. Wendell Gilliard is worried about crime victims being intimidated online by their assailants.
Rep. Gilliard has introduced legislation that would impose a $500 fine and tack on up to an additional 30 days' imprisonment to any inmate caught interacting on social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, via cellphone, according to an Associated Press story. Prison officials claim inmates routinely update their social media status through the use of cellphones that are smuggled into prisons. "TUOL" imagines "it's complicated" is widely used by inmates on their Facebook pages to characterize their relationships.
Rep. Gilliard's measure would also subject to punishment anyone who helped an incarcerated individual establish a social media presence, which opponents claim violates inmates' First Amendment rights. The ACLU opposes the proposed legislation and has combatted a somewhat similar law in Arizona in the past.
Facebook shuts down prisoner pages when it becomes aware of them. If passed, South Carolina would become the first state to criminalize prisoners' presence in the social network arena.