In the United States, the Internet has long been an integral part of everyday life. Living in an era of openness, some people mistakenly believe that they can be free from any restrictions on the Internet. In fact, the Internet in the United States is not as taboo as people think. If you say something you shouldn’t say on the Internet and do something you shouldn’t do, you will be investigated by the US police, but it may lead to jail time.
After the Second World War, the US Supreme Court noticed the negative effects of defamatory and inflammatory speech on social harmony and even national security, and began to incorporate the subsequent impact of speech into judicial considerations. In recent years, online hate speech has been controversial. Some social platforms have repeatedly issued initiatives and set rules for hate speech, monitor them, and resist by restricting recommendations and commenting on these statements, or even directly removing relevant content. Severe hate speech will lead to investigation and punishment. Once a social problem arises, it will not be tolerated by the court because of “freedom of speech.”
In May of this year, 20-year-old New Jersey Chinese man Xie was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The prosecution filed a number of allegations: donations to terrorist organizations, claiming to blow up the Trump Tower on social media, and threatening to shoot pro-Israel. Once all charges are committed, he will face 100 years in prison and a fine of 1.25 million US dollars (about 864.36 million yuan).
In fact, Xie Mou caught the attention of the FBI as early as January this year. At that time, the FBI received intelligence saying that Xie Mou mentioned in the group talks to donate to terrorist organizations and shoot pro-Israeli people. The FBI immediately launched an investigation into its social media accounts and found a series of extreme and violent statements. When he came to New York in April and stood under the Trump Mansion, his every move was under the supervision of the FBI. His online vote on “whether I should blow up the Trump Tower” was also listed by the prosecution as evidence.
Another online exclusion zone that must not be touched is child pornography. US law prohibits the production, transmission, reception, and possession of child pornography, and child pornography includes not only pictures and videos, but also real-life-processed or computer-generated items. Child pornography is strictly prohibited at any point. I have been exposed to a case in which a professor at a US university downloaded a child pornography video from the Internet and was not only dismissed from teaching but also subject to 16 charges, facing a 40-year sentence. Even if the prisoner is excused from prison through the defense, the consequences are still very serious and the punishment is extremely severe.
Today, American society is very sensitive to issues involving children. In June of this year, the New York Times reported on a social news and warned that the video site YouTube’s recommended feature might erode children’s videos and cause social unrest. In the incident, a mother found herself shooting a video of her daughter wearing a bathing suit in the backyard pool. After a few days, she had thousands of views and quickly accumulated 400,000 views. She was deeply disturbed. After the investigation, it was found that the automatic recommendation function of the video website will push such videos to those who watch children’s videos for a long time, and those who are lascivious will also be pushed.
In recent years, under the pressure of society, Youtube has made a lot of changes, including the establishment of a Youtube platform for children only. It is believed that restricting the video containing children will be the next direction of change.
Therefore, even in the United States, freedom of speech is limited. The discussion of the freedom of speech in the US judiciary has not been conclusive until today, and minor adjustments have been made with each case. But the existence of this border itself reminds people that the Internet in the United States is also illegal, and everyone is still responsible for their own comments and activities on the Internet.