Parents not liable for childrens cyberbullying

Techdirt wrote about a cyberbullying case last year where a group of students in New York created a private Facebook group which was used to make fun of another student. This student filed suit against Facebook and the parents of the other bullying students. Techdirt writes that “the judge has now dismissed both claims, noting that while the Facebook comments were “puerile attempts by adolescents to outdo each other,” and while they displayed “an utter lack of taste and propriety, they do not constitute statements of fact,” even though they made some factually false assertions.”

(via ABA Journal) In a written opinion (PDF) provided by the New York Law Journal state supreme court judge in Nassau County granted a defense summary judgment motion, explaining that the statements at issue were not grounded in fact. The judge stated that:

A reasonable reader, given the overall context of the posts, simply would not believe that the Plaintiff contracted AIDS by having sex with a horse or a baboon or that she contracted AIDS from a male prostitute who also gave her crabs and syphilis, or that having contracted sexually transmitted diseases in such manner she morphed into the devil. Taken together, the statements can only be read as puerile attempts by adolescents to outdo each other.

While the posts display an utter lack of taste and propriety, they do not constitute statements of fact. An ordinary reader would not take them literally to conclude
that any of these teenagers are having sex with wild or domestic animals or with male prostitutes dressed as firemen. The entire context and tone of the posts constitute evidence of adolescent insecurities and indulgences, and a vulgar attempt at humor. What they do not contain are statements of fact.

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