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.
Link via Overlawyered.