Home Mellow Out or You Will Pay: Satire Now a Crime in California

Mellow Out or You Will Pay: Satire Now a Crime in California

California’s Senate Bill 1411 took effect a couple of days ago. Now it’s illegal to make fun of people. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But so far exaggeration has yet to be made illegal in the Golden State. Impersonation has been, though. If you sign up for Facebook or Twitter as Arnold or Sarah Palin or Zooey Deschanel, you could serve jail time.

The bill makes such impersonation actionable if it is “for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person.” If there’s one thing that’s easy to quantify, it’s motive, so no need to worry about this law being abused. (See what I did there? Sarcasm. Also legal. For now.)

California is now destined to take its place among such stalwarts of free speech, such titans of comedy, as Morocco and India, both of whom arrested its citizens for making Facebook pages for others.

The so-called “epersonation” law states:

“(A)ny person who knowingly and without consent credibly impersonates another actual person through or on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding another person is guilty of a public offense punishable…by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.”

Yes. In California – a state within the United States – you can now be stuck in jail for a year with a guy who knifed a hooker because you signed up for a Facebook account as Joe Biden and updated his status with “Man do I love whipping ball-bearings at Malaysian sun bears.”

It’s happened. The suede-denim secret police have actually come for your uncool niece.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.