The Internet is a wondrous thing, but it's also made teasing and bullying, formerly restricted to schoolyards, something you can do online for all the world to see. A Long Island teenager is suing her tormentors, their parents, and Facebook over a Facebook group "calculated to hold the plaintiff up to public hatred, ridicule and disgrace."
Denise Finkel, 18 and now a student at the University of Albany, filed suit in Manhattan for $3 million. Finkel alleges that four former Oceanside High School classmates (Michael Dauber, Jeffrey Schwartz, Leah Herz and Melinda Danowitz) created the password-protected Facebook group "90 Cents Short Of A Dollar" to bully her.
In her complaint, Finkel claims
that the Facebook comments indicated that she "was a woman of dubious morals, dubious sexual character," that she "engaged in bestiality," was "an IV drug user" and had contracted AIDS.
Finkel is suing for $3 million.
Her attorney, Mark Altschul said
"She had a very difficult time in high school. They were making sure that she was an unwanted soul there."
Likely Facebook will be immune in this case, but this could be a precedent-setter. You'll probably recall the case of Megan Meier, a Dardenne Prairie, Missouri teenager who committed suicide in 2006 over a MySpace romance gone bad, which actually turned out to be a hoax and cyberbullying. That eventually led to citywide, and later statewide laws against cyberbullying.
Civil cases, on the other hand, are rather uncharted territory. We will be watching this one closely.