Wednesday, October 7, 2009

School Sues Student for Facebook "Suck Site"

The Chicago Tribune reported that Facebook “suck sites” will soon be tested in court.

Student Nicholas Blacconiere created a Facebook page mocking teachers and classes at Salon Professional Academy of Elgin. Now school administrators have sued Blacconiere in Illinois state court for unauthorized use of the school’s logo, and for emotional damage caused by defamatory comments on the page.  According to the newspaper, there are no known cases in which a school sought monetary damages from a student who mocked teachers online (although there have been cases of online harassment and cyber-bullying, as well as criminal cases involving cyber-stalking, threats, and hate speech).

The Tribune cited one expert who pointed out that some states have statutes under which parents can be held liable for their children’s intentional, harmful acts.  (One more reason parents should pay close attention to their kids’ online activities.)

Helen A.S. Popkin offers her take on the case in a cleverly written article on MSNBC.  As she points out: "While the medium of expression has changed over the years — from the cover of one’s Mead Trapper Keeper to Facebook and other Internet-loitering spots — proclaiming the suckitude of one’s school is an ancient rite of passage. It may even be necessary for growing personalities to assert such independence, according to some experts. The change of venue, however, has led to myriad lawsuits involving disgruntled students and the schools that punish them."

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