Warning: Facebook May Cause Legal Troubles

by Benjamin Tarshish on November 18, 2011

Facebook and other social media are fantastic developments of the modern age. Keep in touch with friends and family, network to promote your business, or just log on and play some games. The options available to us now were undreamt of even fifteen years ago. As were the many ways those new options could get us into legal trouble. Facebook foibles have once again made the national and local news over the last week. A New Jersey woman couldn’t get her ex-boyfriend off her mind, it seems. She decided to unleash her feelings in a rather destructive manner. According to reports, she created a Facebook profile under his name. Impersonating him, she admitted to hiring prostitutes, having a sexually-transmitted disease, and using drugs. That last one was somewhat ironic: her ex-boyfriend was a narcotics detective. The woman was indicted with a charge of criminal identity theft, and the New Jersey court ruled that the charges could proceed under that state’s law. Closer to home in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, ten students were suspended this week after a series of Facebook threats and harassment finally erupted in an in-school shouting match. These stories remind us once again of an ever-present fact: What you say and do on Facebook can have serious consequences for you in “real life.” Creating a fake profile for an ex-lover can potentially lead to both civil and criminal identity theft and invasion of privacy charges. Badmouthing a rival on your own Facebook page can lead to a defamation lawsuit. If you should find yourself on either side of such a dispute, let us know. But the best medicine, as always, is prevention. Act civilly, and avoid the civil judicial system.

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