Cyberbullying is nothing new on the web, especially when it comes to social networks. But one Oceonside teenager is fighting back, suing not only four former high school classmates and their parents, but Facebook as well. According to Newsday, Denise Finkel has brought this cyberbullying case, filed in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, for $3 million. Finkel claims that she was cyberbullied in a private forum on Facebook.
Now a student at the University at Albany, Finkel has named four former classmates as the bullies that created a private group on Facebook with the intention of bashing on Finkel claiming that she participated in bestiality as well as contracted AIDS.
Facebook plans on fighting the lawsuit brought against it by Finkel. But can Facebook win? Even if Facebook wins in court, the public perception of Facebook is at risk with such a potentially high profile Supreme Court case. Cyberbullying is no laughing matter, and can do serious harm and emotional damage to the recipients of calculated defamation.
The creation of these types of groups are largely prohibited on Facebook. And while we’re unsure of Finkle’s correspondence with Facebook as an effort to have the group removed, Facebook is still subject to things like rapid growth, making it increasingly difficult to respond to every direct communication in a timely and personalized matter.
Several regulations have been put in place for Facebook and other social networks, requiring things like the sites responding to such requests within an allotted time frame, giving the sites some additional buffer time to go back and tackle each request on an individualized level.
Additionally there are a number of initiatives on a global scale that are taking on cyberbullying head on, seeking cooperation from the social networks themselves for making online environments safer for all participants. Yet there’s only so much a site like Facebook can do. When self-regulating systems like user-generated reporting fails, and direct correspondence fails, it becomes a major problem for users and Facebook alike.