A schoolgirl in Virginia, USA faces a fine and up to a year in jail for setting up a Facebook page.
The public page created to insult her classmates at Stonewall Jackson High School, was called “Stonewall Hoes,” Virginia police said.
It featured pictures of other underage girls in her year and “lewd” comments about them that have landed the teenager with a charge of harassment by computer which carries a potential yearlong prison sentence.
It sounds like a nasty case of cyber-bullying that deserves to be punished, but the weight of the sentence once again draws attention to the problems of social media and the law, a hot area recently due to several court cases about opinions expressed on Twitter.
For teenagers the divide between public and private on social media is still blurred so it’s a hard area for authorities to police – in order to both protect kids from each other but also their own actions which they may well come to regret later. Many insults that previously would have been shouted across the locker room are now stored up in digital archives and on public websites – pushing kid stuff into the public domain.
Even granted that US law is more severe than over here in Europe, that’s a harsh punishment for playground insult.