Teen Sues Classmates Over Facebook Cyberbullying
A Georgia girl is suing two classmates and their parents in a Facebook cyberbullying case. The girl's parents hope their daughter's online bullying will lead to changes in the law.
Alexandria Boston, then 13, cried when she found a fake Facebook page in her name, with photos that were distorted to make her look fat, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The fake page also contained videos and posts that suggested Boston was racist, sexually active, and smoked marijuana.
Two classmates, a boy and a girl, allegedly created the page and were given in-school suspensions for using cell phones to take pictures at school, the Journal-Constitution reports. The fake Facebook page, however, stayed up for nearly a year.
Alex Boston’s Facebook cyberbullying suit claims her family called police about the fake Facebook page. But police said no crime had been committed, according to the Journal-Constitution.
School officials also said they couldn’t do anything more, because the fake Facebook page was created off-campus.
Boston and her parents then reported the fake Facebook page as a fraud, in hopes Facebook would take it down. But Facebook did nothing — until Boston filed her lawsuit.
Boston’s suit alleges libel — the written publication of defamatory statements — as well as intentional infliction of emotional distress. The suit names Boston’s two classmates, along with their parents who paid for Internet access and allegedly failed to supervise their children.
The emotional distress claim may be difficult to prove. Courts generally only grant emotional distress awards when another party’s actions were “extreme and outrageous,” causing a victim “severe” emotional distress. That’s a high threshold that may be met if, for example, a victim sought medical or psychological treatment.
It’s not clear, however, if Boston sought counseling for her alleged Facebook cyberbullying.
But as news of Alex Boston’s cyberbullying lawsuit spread, Facebook finally took down the fake Facebook page last month. Boston’s father is hoping for a new law to let schools punish students for off-campus bullying.
- Teen sues over Facebook bullying (Wired)
- Cyber Bullying (FindLaw)
- Cyberbullying: A Rundown of Cyberbullying Laws (FindLaw’s Law and Daily Life)
- Can Parents Sue for Cyberbullying? (FindLaw’s Injured)
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