Facebook Named In Cyber-Bullying Suit - InformationWeek

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3/4/2009
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Facebook Named In Cyber-Bullying Suit

A New York teenager has sued the social networking site and some of its users because of a Facebook chat group where she says she was ridiculed and disgraced.

A Long Island, N.Y., teenager has sued Facebook, some of its users, and those users' parents in a lawsuit that alleges the teen was traumatized through cyberbullying on the social networking site.

Denise Finkel claims that her former classmates at Oceanside High School created a Facebook chat group to ostracize, ridicule, and disgrace her. She is seeking $3 million in damages. The teen is now enrolled at the State University of New York at Albany.

A Facebook spokesman said the lawsuit lacks merit and the social networking site will vigorously fight it.

The lawsuit states that four of Finkel's former classmates created a closed, or password-protected page, where they said she used intravenous drugs, had "inappropriate conduct with animals," and had AIDS, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases. Finkel's lawyer told Newsday that the student had a very difficult time in high school and that the four classmates made sure she felt unwanted there.

The lawsuit states that Michael Dauber, Jeffrey Schwartz, Leah Herz, and Melinda Danowitz created the chat room and attacked Finkel. It's unclear what steps Finkel took in attempts to get Facebook to remove the material. The Communications Decency Act protects Web site operators from being held liable for statements posted on their sites.

Social networking sites, including Facebook, generally prohibit members from posting obscene material. Facebook recently stated that it uses innovative technology to monitor the site for some activity, such as preying on minors.

Groups that try to thwart cyberbullying recommend that people search their own names and personal information on Google or set up alerts to monitor what others say about them online.


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