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Careful What You Tweet!

Tweeting false information could put you in jail. During Superstorm Sandy, a Twitter user spread misinformation by tweeting that the New York Stock Exchange "is flooded under more than 3 feet of water" and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo "is trapped in Manhattan. Has been taken to a secure shelter."

The Supreme Court has held that such statements are imminently dangerous and not protected by the First Amendment.

In the November 5th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Joe Palazzolo quotes legal expert Stuart Benjamin as saying, "This is the modern version of someone falsely screaming 'Fire!' in a crowded theater."

New York has a law that makes it a crime to initiate or circulate "a false report or warning of (a) catastrophe or emergency under circumstances in which it is not unlikely that public alarm or inconvenience will result." Doing this could get you a year in prison.

While this law is most often been used to prosecute people who file false police reports, it could also be applied to false tweets (and the Dept. of Homeland Security--NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show--would not take kindly to false tweets about terrorism, either).

Palazzolo quotes lawyer David Anderson as saying, "If (this law) could be invoked against (this tweeter), there is no apparent reason why it could not be used to prosecute new media, which unfortunately do sometimes report the impending occurrence of a crime, catastrophe or emergency under circumstances in which it is not unlikely that public alarm or inconvenience will result."

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This is chilling! I've lost friends due to their nasty Facebook comments, but being put in jail--now that's SERIOUS!
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