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Ruling from Georgia Court Could Hold Parents Responsible for Children’s Online Posts
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Summary: The ruling of a court in Georgia has set a legal precedent in the online posting of children as parents could now be held liable for those posts.

According to a ruling from a Georgia appellate court, parents can now be held liable for what their children post to Facebook. In a report from the Wall Street Journal, this ruling marks a legal precedent on the issue of parental responsibility of the online activity of their children.

  
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The parents of a seventh grade student might be negligent for failing to have their son delete a fake profile on Facebook, according to the ruling from the Georgia Court of Appeals. The profile reportedly defamed a female classmate.

The issue began back in 2011 when the boy built a profile on Facebook that was for a girl. He had help from another student. The boy used a “Fat Face” application to make the girl look obese and then posted profane and sexually explicit messages on the profile page. The posts made the girl seem racist and promiscuous.

The girl told her parents when she found out about the profile page. Her parents complained to the principal of the school, which punished the boy with two days of in-school suspension. The school also told the boy’s parents, who issued a one-week grounding.

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The page remained active on Facebook for the next 11 months, according to the ruling from the court. The page was not deleted until Facebook deactivated the account at the request of the girl’s parents.

“Given that the false and offensive statements remained on display, and continued to reach readers, for an additional eleven months, we conclude that a jury could find that the [parents’] negligence proximately caused some part of the injury [the girl] sustained from [the boy’s] actions (and inactions),” wrote Judge John J. Ellington in the opinion.



The appeals court agreed with a trial court’s dismissal of another portion of the lawsuit. That portion wanted to hold the boy’s parents responsible for the page being posted.

Edgar S. Mangiafico, Jr. represented the parents of the boy and he said he will appeal the court’s ruling.

The attorney for the girl, Natalie Woodward, said that in “certain circumstances, when what is being said about a child is untrue and once the parents know about it, then liability is triggered.”

Should parents be held liable for the online postings made by their children? Share your opinion in our poll.

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Image credit: Facebook



 

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