In the United States, being labeled a sex offender comes with some of the most serious, life-altering consequences of all criminal labels. There's no stigma like that which follows a sex crime accusation and/or conviction, and now social networking sites are working to further that stigma for registered offenders in at least one state.
Though this story isn't directly tied to Colorado, when one state comes up with a law for sex offenders, sometimes it isn't long before similar laws pop up throughout other areas of the country. Sex offender registry laws spread and change quickly, for example. A new Louisiana law requires sex offenders who use Facebook to share more information than the average user.
CNN reports that a law was passed in the southern state that requires convicted sex offenders and "child predators" to share the following information on their Facebook profiles:
- Clear notice that the social network user is a convicted sex offender
- Information about the specific sex crime that the user was convicted of
- Where the sex offense was allegedly committed
- A physical description of the user
- A home address for the user
Sex offender registry laws already require sex offenders to live with a diminished amount of privacy and freedom. While this is appropriate for many convicted offenders, the limits that registry laws and social stigma place on all sex offenders can lead to a life of shame, fear and violated freedoms once a criminal sentence has supposedly been served already. It can be hard to start over.
The requirement to list the above-mentioned points on Facebook is supported by the argument that sex offenders use social networking to reach out and violate potential victims, including children. That argument supports another even more controversial effort in the works in Louisiana to ban registered offenders from using the Internet entirely.
What do you think about the Facebook requirement as well as the idea of banning convicted sex offenders from using the Internet? Do those limits go too far and violate freedoms that should be generally granted? The Internet is more than a networking tool. It is also an invaluable educational tool that can serve numerous positive interests for even those who have criminal pasts.
Source: CNN, "New La. law: Sex offenders must list status on Facebook, other social media," Michael Martinez, June 201, 2012