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Think You're Safe from Predators Online? How a Supreme Court Ruling May Influence That

06-20-2017
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The Supreme Court struck down a North Carolina law that bans sex offenders from obtaining social media profiles.

The high court decided the law was unconstitutional because it was too broad and violated the First Amendment.

"A fundamental principle of the First Amendment is that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more," Justice Anthony Kennedy writes in the court's decision.

"By prohibiting sex offenders from using those websites, North Carolina with one broad stroke bars access to what, for many, are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge," Kennedy wrote.

Some believe this decision may open up the floodgates for sex offenders to exploit social media to lure and groom potential victims.

"We have seen the crime of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, and the offenders, moving in large numbers to the internet," Shared Hope and Stop Child Predators, two organizations which fight human trafficking, told CBN News in a joint statement. 

"North Carolina attempted to protect children from online sex abuse and predation by placing certain social-media restrictions on a class of persons who pose a heightened risk of committing sex crimes – registered sex offender," the statement read.

"Although Facebook and other social-media sites could do a lot more to police their own traffic, nothing those sites do could have the kind of deterrent effect that a state statute, carrying the threat of prison time or a fine, will have," the groups added. "We must do what we can to protect our children in that space, as we do in our physical spaces."

While some sex offenders may be using the internet to find their next victims, at least one app is using the internet to stop them.

Legitifi is the first app that allows users to verify and validate identities on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The app keeps people safe by pulling real time data from Social Media Networks and checking the National Sex Offender Database to see if a particular user may be registered.

Basically, it allows social media users to know quickly who's really on the other end of the computer.

"In today's world, taking someone at face value can put you -- and your loved ones -- at tremendous risk," says Matthew Condensa, CEO for Legitifi. "With Legitifi, you don't have to take the bait, so to speak. Our goal is to encourage safety and honesty to create better communities and experiences -- we believe that good things happen to good people who make good choices."

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