Facebook Gets Tagged

Well, it was bound to happen. Facebook has been named in a $3 million "cyber-bullying" lawsuit.

A Long Island, N.Y., teenager has sued Facebook, some of its users, and those users' parents in a lawsuit that alleges the teen was traumatized through cyber-bullying on the social networking site.

Denise Finkel claims that her former classmates at Oceanside High School created a Facebook chat group to ostracize, ridicule, and disgrace her....

The suit claims that the chat group was "calculated to hold the plaintiff up to public hatred, ridicule and disgrace," including defamatory statements such as the defendant "participated in bestiality and contracted AIDS".

It's a real shame that Finkel was treated the way she was. The onslaught of pimples, boobs, and strange hair is rough enough, without being called an infectious bugger. But suing the virtual bathroom wall is not the solution, lest it attract more government attention. Associate editor Jacob Sullum says it best:

There are plenty of reprehensible things people do that are not and should not be crimes. One of them is being mean to emotionally vulnerable people. Since individual reactions to insults are unpredictable and highly variable, a rule that criminalized speech when it leads to suicide or other forms of self-harm would chill any expression more negative than "Nice day, isn't it?"  

In his blog, Eric Goldman, an Associate Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, says the lawsuit is D.O.A. But this surely won't be last time a free social networking site is vilified as a hideout for cruel bullies.

Tweet your representatives now before Twitter gets targeted. Tweet me @slobberchop, and other Reason staffers here. Coverage of the Lori Drew "cyber-bullying" case here.

Link via Overlawyered.

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  • ||

    It's a real shame that Finkel was treated the way she was.

    Why? Maybe she's a dickhead.

    Tweet me @slobberchop

    Must...resist...urge...to ridicule and disgrace...lest...Fonz...sue...me...

  • Warty||

    Boo hoo hoo, the mean kids made fun of me, boo hoo give me money...

    Stupid bitch. If she hadn't fucked all those AIDS horses, she wouldn't be in this mess, now would she?

  • Kilroy||

    Epi,
    Good point. We don't know what the circumstances are. Finkel could just as easily be the school bully getting her comeuppance as she could be a poor victim of a group of school bullies who need to get THEIR comeuppance.

  • Xeones||

    Hurrah! Comeuppance for everybody!

  • ||

    Tweet me @slobberchop

    Allow me, Epi.

    ...

    Ah, fuck it. The Intern finally won me over with: "The onslaught of pimples, boobs, and strange hair is rough enough, without being called an infectious bugger."

    As for the bestial HIVver, karma's a biotch.

  • ||

    "Nice day, isn't it?"

    "Nice" is named after Nice, in France where they have publically hanged minorities for centuries.

    "Nice day" is another way of saying "LET'S HANG SOME DARKIES".

    As such, I am suing.

  • ||

    You disappoint me, FrBunny. You needed to at least do something with "slobberknob" in it.

  • ||

    You disappoint me, FrBunny.

    Goddammit. And I swore I'd never be a beard.

    BTW, Intern just keeps tweeting about visiting his friends Ace and Gary... And what the hell is a "Monroe transfer"?

  • ||

    And what the hell is a "Monroe transfer"?

    It's just a fancy name for a Cleveland Steamer.

  • ||

    Sigh. Leave it to Teh Gays to take something classy like a Cleveland Steamer and give it a trashy name.

  • Nittany Cat||

    "Denise Finkel"

    Her last name is Finkel. I mean c'mon. Bullying her is pretty much manditory.

  • SpongePaul||

    For the last flipping time you overly sensitive People, for i can not call you Americans, lol. YOU CAN NOT BE CYBER BULLIED. see that X in the right hand corner. click it, bulling over. see that setting that says ignore, click it. bulling over. you can not be bullied by anyone online, ever. as long as you have the frreedom to turn it off or walk away, if you get bullied, it is then your fault. not mine or myspace or facebook or the teacher or your boss. ITS YOUR FAULT FOR LETING THEM!

  • ||

    So if these mean kids sent txt msgs would Verizon be on the hook?

  • Mad Max||

    Professor Goldman seems to have nailed it.

    In addition to the issue of blaming Facebook and the alleged bullies' parents, there's the claim of defamation. If this is actually a group with 5 or 6 members who know each other offline and can interpret each others' jargon (lord knows I can't), and if the group is a preplanned thing by these 'bullies' who already believe negative things about the plaintiff, and if these AIDS horses allegations were meant as random insults, not as assertions of fact, then I don't see the defamation.

    However, since the complaint spefically says that the bullies intended their remarks as true and that the remarks were accepted as true, then that part of the claim may be enough to get the case to the deposition stage. At that point, if there's clearly no evidence of any kind to back up the claim, then I imagine it would be dismissed.

  • it||

    Professor Goldman seems to have nailed it.

    Libel!

  • ||

    Never mind the "cyber-bullied". Libel is criminal, and the authors are possibly guilty.
    They are certainly in violation of the facebook terms of use:

    "upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;"
    ...
    "intimidate or harass another;"
    ....
    "upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available content that, in the sole judgment of Company, is objectionable or which restricts or inhibits any other person from using or enjoying the Site, or which may expose Company or its users to any harm or liability of any type."

    Presumably the originators were banned from facebook when facebook became aware of the violations. If not, facebook might then become liable.

  • smartass sob||

    Associate Professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, says the lawsuit is D.O.A.

    Yeah, that's what they used to say about tobaco company lawsuits, too.

  • Xanthippas||

    There are plenty of reprehensible things people do that are not and should not be crimes.

    We're not talking about a crime here. We're talking about a civil lawsuit.

    Good point. We don't know what the circumstances are. Finkel could just as easily be the school bully getting her comeuppance as she could be a poor victim of a group of school bullies who need to get THEIR comeuppance.

    That's all well and good as far as baseless and completely uninformed speculation goes. I imagine a jury will arrive at something closer to the truth, which is really not so awful as Winkler makes it sound.

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    The funniest part of this whole stupidity is that before her family decided to make it public, no one outside of the people who know her actually gave a shit. Now she's a.) got the whole world finding out what the Facebook group said, with many more people laughing at her; and b.) will meet many strangers in the future who will remember how dumb her family was for the rest of her life. Cases like this, she loses either way.

    If she'd just sued those who made the false claims against her instead of suing Facebook (which doesn't actually make a profit, apparently), nobody in the world would care or know about it outside of those who know the people involved.

  • Shawn Levasseur||

    If having your feelings hurt is a crime, then we ALL should be doing hard time.

    And I say this as someone who was cruelly harassed as a kid.

  • felon-in-training||

    Shawn Levasseur has never really suffered!*

    *This is supposed to be one of two universally intolerable allegations. I forget the other one.

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