A man in Ireland has been charged with “frape,” or the crime of accessing someone’s Facebook account and defacing it. He has been fined €2,000 for accessing his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook profile on her phone and posting malicious content, stating that she was a “whore” who would “take any offers.” According to The Irish Times, it is the first prosecution for criminal damage done to a social media account.
The term “frape,” which somewhat crudely conflates the words “Facebook” and “rape,” is a slang term for hijacking someone’s Facebook account. However, even though the crime was decidedly digital, Irish prosecutors used an old-school law to nail the perpetrator. Using the Criminal Damage Act of 1991, the defendant was prosecuted as if he had defaced actual physical property. The crime carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison.
This case, though seemingly trivial, could actually become quite historic if it sets a precedent. Lawmakers in the United States are struggling to outlaw “revenge porn,” the practice of posting compromising photos of former romantic partners. However, if these acts were treated as vandalism, as they were in Ireland, it might be easier to prosecute these acts in a court of law. While the man in the Ireland case likely won’t face jail time, a stiff fine should more than do the trick of dissuading him from ever doing it again.