One day last year, Alex Boston, 14, walked into her Georgia school a normal teenage girl. But soon, things would change. Her classmates were making rude comments and staring. She didn't know what was going on.
As it turns out, two of her classmates had created a fake Facebook profile in her name. They doctored photos and implied that she smoked pot; they made obscene and racist comments on other friends' pages.
Unable to end the cyberbullying, Boston has now filed a libel lawsuit against her classmates and their parents.
The attorney's choice to file a libel lawsuit on Alex Boston's behalf is an interesting one. The school couldn't do anything about the teens, reports the Associated Press. With unclear laws, educators are cautious about punishing students for off-campus harassment. Georgia's cyberbullying law also didn't cover the situation, according to the Cobb County police spokeswoman.
Libel law, a type of defamation law, is a very good option in these types of situations. Cyberbullying often involves fake Facebook profiles and nasty online comments. They can ruin a child's reputation and cause severe emotional distress.
Libel statutes prohibit the written publication of defamatory statements. Defamatory statements include those statements that harm the reputation, reflect negatively on the plaintiff's character and that expose the plaintiff to hatred.
Based on the above facts alone, it appears as though the classmates may well have libeled Alex Boston. They created a fake Facebook profile and made racist comments in her name and implied that she is engaged in criminal activity. She stands a good shot at winning her lawsuit.
- Cobb middle school student files suit alleging cyberbullying (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Cyber Bullying (FindLaw)
- Making a Fake Facebook Page is Identity Theft (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Cyberbullying: A Rundown of Cyberbullying Laws (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)