Cyber Harassment and Internet Defamation

September 9, 2020
Cyber Harassment and Internet Defamation

Missouri law prohibits knowingly communicating a threat to another person if it frightens, intimidates, or causes emotional distress. You cannot use coarse language, offensive to one’s “average sensibility” that puts another person in reasonable apprehension of offensive physical conduct, contact, or harm.

Court decisions are sorting out just how First Amendment protection extends to the private expression on the internet to define “subjective intent to threaten.”

Speech is protected by the First Amendment but one exception is determining if it’s a “true threat”. Posting intimidating comments about a woman on a Facebook page may instill fear in the target of the rant.

Emailing threats, worrying others, making false online posts, is protected speech. Prosecutors will have difficulty proving evidence of the speaker’s intent to harm as courts consider the liberty of the rights of free speech.


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