Parents may be liable for what their kids post on Facebook

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Parents may be liable for what their kids post on Facebook

According to a ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals, parents can be held liable for what their children post on Facebook.  The Georgia Court of Appeals recently ruled that the parents of a seventh-grade boy were negligent for not having their son take down a Facebook profile that defamed one of his female classmates.

In 2011, the boy with the help of a classmate made a profile pretending to be the female classmate. After morphing her photo on the “Fat Face” app, the boys posted the fake profile with comments that depicted the girl to be racist and promiscuous, according to the court documents.

When the girl discovered the profile, her parents went to the school principal who gave the boy two days of in-school suspension. The principal also alerted the boy’s parents who grounded him for a week. The boy did not take the profile down after his punishment and it remained online for 11 months. Facebook finally deactivated the account after the girl’s parents contacted Facebook. The girl’s parents did not go to the boy’s parents immediately because the school refused to identify the culprit due to confidentiality.  As a result of the parents not having the boy to take down the profile, they were found negligent for some of the girls injuries.

Judge J. Ellington wrote in the opinion, “Given that the false and offensive statements remained on display, and continued to reach readers, for an additional eleven months, we conclude that a jury could find that the [parents’] negligence proximately caused some part of the injury [the girl] sustained from [the boy’s] action (and inactions).” The appeals court did dismiss part of the lawsuit which held the parents responsible of the boy posting the profile in the first place, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Many lawyers are saying that this ruling marks legal precedent on the issue of parental responsibility regarding children’s online activity.

Source: Wall Street Journal LawBlog

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