3 Legal Options For Fighting Back Against Online Harassment
Three years ago, Amanda Todd killed herself.
She was relentlessly harassed and bullied online. A man she met on Facebook charmed her into flashing her topless body to him. He took a picture and put it on the Internet where it went viral. Since then, Todd endured endless bullying and teasing. On October 10, 2012, she couldn't put up with the bullying and harassment any more and committed suicide.
Three years later, many people like Amanda are still victims of online harassment and bullying every day. Even celebrities are fair game. So what can you do to fight back against online harassment?
1. Make a Police Report
Report any online harassment to the police.
In 1999, California was the first state to enact legislation that made cyber stalking a crime. Now, all 50 states and the federal government has passed laws criminalizing cyber harassment or cyber stalking.
For example, Arizona's law states, "It is unlawful for any person, with intent to terrify, intimidate, threaten, or harass a specific person to ... direct any obscene, lewd or profane language ... threaten to inflict physical harm ... [or] otherwise disturb by repeated anonymous, unwanted or unsolicited electronic communications." Violation of this law is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six month in jail and a $2,500 fine.
2. Sue in Civil Court
If your harasser is posting false facts about you online, he is guilty of defamation. If your harasser is posting private photos or your private information online, he is guilty of invasion of privacy, or more specifically, public disclosure of private facts.
These are torts for which you can sue for damages in civil court.
3. Get a Restraining Order
Did you know that a restraining order isn't just for keeping somebody away from you physically? A court can use a restraining order to prohibit electronic contact as well.
If you feel threatened or in danger because of an online harasser, you can petition the court for a restraining order. Most court websites will have the forms and instructions required for a restraining order.
If you need more assistance, an experienced litigation attorney will be able to help you sue your harasser or file for a restraining order.
- Browse Litigation & Appeals Lawyers by Location (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- What Proof Do You Need for a Restraining Order? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Sarcastic Facebook Threat Lands Teen in Jail (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Is Cyberbullying a Crime? What Can Victims Do?(FindLaw Blotter)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.