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Ohio Court Orders Apology on Facebook
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In a global trend, Facebook seems to be gaining acceptance as a platform as regards legal notices. Just a few days back a UK court made history by allowing legal claims to be served through Facebook. And now there are reports of a U.S. court ordering a man to post apology for 30 days on Facebook asking for forgiveness from his estranged wife. Failure to comply would result in a jail sentence of 60 days.

The order is seen as equitable as Mark Byron, had been venting his frustrations regarding his pending divorce on Facebook which is a public social network after blocking his wife from his Facebook wall to prevent her from viewing what he wrote.

Though free-speech advocates have found the order to be controversial, laws of public defamation, libel and slander are also not negated by free speech. In as much as the injury has been caused by voicing opinion at a particular point of a social network, it seems just that an apology issued for a length of time at the same point can be equitable. That is, unless you learn of the extent of offense committed.


The Cincinnati photographer, implying that his wife was trying to destroy his life vented on Facebook without mincing words, “If you an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husband’s life and take your son’s father away from him completely – all you need to do is say you’re scared of your husband or domestic partner and they’ll take him away!”

Mark was visibly upset over thoughts of visiting rights to his son following divorce and expressed so on his Facebook wall. It is also clear that according to interpretation of language for courts, that “if” was a kind of qualifier to prove that the assertions made were conditional and not absolute.

However, by the very act of insinuation without proof an offense has been created, and according to the nature of the offense, the Hamilton County judge gave Mark three choices: either a $500 fine, or post an apology and pay for child support, or go to prison. Take your pick.

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Free speech expert Jack Greiner said, “The idea that a court can say, ‘I order you not to post something or to post something’ seems to me to be a 1st Amendment issue.”



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