A bill being considered in the sweltering state of Arizona could make parody Twitter and Facebook accounts a crime. As in, those found guilty of online impersonation could actually do jail time. But only if they do so with “malicious intent.”
There’s a fine line here that needs to be addressed if something like this were to pass. Falsely impersonating someone to cause harm—yes, that’s bad. But what about the thousands of harmless Twitter accounts that are actually funny? Remember the one posing as Christopher Walken?
Similar laws have actually passed in California, Texas and New York, so this isn’t unprecedented territory. But how does one determine what’s malicious and what isn’t? Some folks may interpret something as cruel, while others may not. It’ll be interesting to see how the blurred line of the online world blends with state laws, particularly when the Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that something like this could impede on First Amendment rights.