The law defines a “commercial social networking website” as one that derives revenue from membership fees or advertising, facilitates social introductions and allows users to create pages to post information.Though the law makes exceptions for websites that provide narrow services such as email, the three-judge N. appeals court panel that ruled in the case said it could prohibit a registered sex offender from accessing Google, Amazon or even a cooking TV channel website because the sites provide secondary social networking forums.
Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.
Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.
Online dating services allow users to become "members" by creating a profile and uploading personal information including (but not limited to) age, gender, sexual orientation, location, and appearance.
Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile.
Even convicted criminals – and in some instances especially convicted criminals – might receive legitimate benefits from these means for access to the world of ideas, in particular if they seek to reform and to pursue lawful and rewarding lives.” The state Court of Appeals ruled the law was too broad and restricted Parkingham’s free speech. The 2008 restriction was part of a legislative package that Roy Cooper, the state Attorney General at the time, advocated for many years. Packingham argued that prohibiting him from using social media sites is a violation of his rights to “free speech, expression, association, assembly and the press under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.” Packingham was convicted in 2002 of taking indecent liberties with a child. Though many of those sites now are more widely used by adults than children, the North Carolina law makes it illegal for a registered sex offender to access a website where he or she knows minors have personal web pages.