In 2011, two 7th-graders in Cobb County, Georgia set up a malicious Facebook account making fun of one of their classmates while they sat in homeroom. The girl who was victimized by the page recognized the photo used of her and knew who had made it. She filed suit in 2012 against both students and their parents. Then, just last week, the court reached what could be a landmark decision in the case. The State Court of Appeals ruled that the parents of the two children who made the Facebook page can be held liable because they allowed the page to remain up on Facebook for almost a year.
“Some of these postings were graphically sexual, racist or otherwise offensive and some falsely stated that Alex was on a medication regimen for mental health disorders and that she took illegal drugs,” the appeals court ruling said.
According to the court, what made the case ruling worse for the parents was the lack of attention they paid. The page itself wasn’t even taken down until April 2012, and that happened only after the victim’s family had already filed suit. Through a series of appeals, the case is now headed back to a lower court for trial.
Facebook has tried repeatedly to curb cyber-bullying on the site, instituting new reporting tools for bullying victims to reach out for help anonymously. However, if the law intervenes and makes parents legally responsible for what their children do on Facebook, you can bet cyber-bullying rates will take a steep, and perhaps permanent, nosedive.