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The Laws Regarding Convicted Sex Offenders and Social Media Use

June 23, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

The advent of the internet brought many changes into society. As such, many states, including Ohio, have enacted laws limiting convicted sex offenders’ use of the internet during incarceration, and some states have also started to limit usage upon release. Some of the social media sites also have their own restrictions regarding convicted sex offenders.

Each social media site has the ability to make their own rules regarding the use by registered sex offenders. For example, Facebook does not allow convicted sex offenders to use their site. These policies do not always prevent a convicted sex offender from registering, but it does allow the sites to remove their account if an issue arises.

Enacting legislation that limits the use of social media falls into a grey area between infringing on their first amendment rights and protecting against a future crime, according to Newsnet 5 Cleveland. A few updated policies and laws regarding internet usage and social media for convicted sex offenders have arisen in some states the past few years.

In Ohio, probation officers determine the restrictions for registered sex offenders. During incarceration, convicted sex offenders face restrictions involving access to the internet and other information technology. Upon release, it is common to also have to disclose some aspects of their internet usage. Similar to keeping law enforcement posted about moves or changes in vehicle, registered sex offenders must provide updates whenever they make changes to their email address and other digital properties.

Thus, it is not illegal per se for registered sex offenders in Ohio to use social media, as long as they provide all the details to law enforcement agencies. However, that does not stop the sites from removing the account upon determining that a user is a convicted sex offender.

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