A Georgia middle school student has filed a libel lawsuit against two of her classmates that have been cyber bullying her on Facebook.
Alex Boston, 14, with the help of her family, filed the lawsuit against her fellow students after discovering a phony Facebook page. The information showed Boston’s name and information, but the profile picture was doctored in a way that made her look bloated.
The phony Facebook also made it appear as though Boston smoked marijuana and spoke in the language “Retardish.” The creators of the account made it look as though Alex had made obscene comments on her friends’ pages, made frequent sexual references and posted a racist video. They are also being accused of making derogatory statements about Alex.
After discovering the page, Alex and her family tried to go to the school, local authorities, and even Facebook itself for help in resolving the matter.
“At the time this report was taken in May 2011, we were not aware of any cyberbullying law on the books that would take her specific situation and apply it to Georgia law,” said Cobb County police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce.
Alex’s family said despite requests to Facebook to take the page down, the company did not do so. The website was taken down around the time the lawsuit was filed a week ago.
The controversial issue of whether schools can censor students off campus when they are using such social networking sites as Facebook to attack other students has led to split decisions in the federal courts, wrestling over whether free speech rights allow students while outside of school to say whatever they want.
House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, a Democrat from Atlanta who co-sponsored the legislation that would have expanded Georgia’s bullying law to include the ability to do so, stated:
“Cyberbullying really goes beyond the four walls of the school or the four corners of the campus, because if you use a cellphone, PDA or social media site, then those activities follow the child both into the school and out of the school. It’s important for the state to really get ahead of this. It’s already happening, but it’s going to be more exacerbated and more difficult the longer we go.”
The lawsuit filed by Boston and her family are seeking unspecified damages and trial by jury.