A bill targeting social media content that is already being labelled unconstitutional has been put before the Kentucky General Assembly.
If passed, the bill would prohibit social media users to wait an hour before posting content related to a “traumatic event” or “accident” online. Those who violate the proposed bill would face a fine anywhere between $20 to $100 depending on the incident. The bill would not apply to members of the news media, victims of the event, and emergency responders at the site of the accident.
Strangely, the man behind the bill, Republican State Representative John “Bam” Carney of Campbellsville, has admitted it probably won’t get passed, reports WHAS 11. However, Carney states his intention was to create a debate around the issue, and to get people to be “more sensitive about what they … put on social media in times of tragedy.”
According to Carney, the speed at which users can access social media to post about a tragic event can be both disruptive for police officers and insensitive to the families of the victims.
HB 170 goal is to get people to think about posting tragic events before family is notified. I'm not against free speech. Respect others
— Bam Carney (@BamCarney) January 12, 2016
Carney believes that abstaining from social platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter in the wake of a serious accident would allow the police and first responders time to notify families of those involved in the incident before they find out elsewhere.
Carney’s doomed bill has found a vocal supporter in Tiger Robinson, Pulaski County’s public safety director. “A lot of times, we’re working a fatal traffic accident and someone posts pictures of it on Facebook,” Robinson told GovTech.
“People see the pictures and say, ‘Hey, that’s my sister’s car!’ So now you’ve got folks who are upset all showing up at the accident scene that’s still ongoing — sometimes before we’ve even gotten the victims out of the car — and certainly before we can properly notify anyone.”
Legal experts argue that the bill won’t stand up to scrutiny under the First Amendment, regarding freedom of speech. And, apparently, Carney agrees, stating, “this probably would have First Amendment problems.”