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Don’t be stupid: Legal Issues with Social Media Karen Haase Harding & Shultz (402) 434-3000 khaase@hslegalfirm.com H & S School Law @KarenHaase


What’s the deal?  Cyberbullying  Sexting  Ignoring Internet Safety


Cyberbullying? Cyberbullying, v: the use of technology such as computers and cell phones to engage in repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.


School-Related Consequences  Neb. Rev. Stat. 79-2,137  Definition: “ongoing pattern of physical, verbal or electronic abuse”  Consequences: • Loss of extracurricular privileges • Detentions • Short and Long Term Suspension • Expulsion • Alternative School Assignment


Kowalski v. Berkeley Schs (2011)  Facebook page: Students Against Shae’s Herpes (SASH)  Student received • 10-day suspension from school • 90-day “social suspension”  Sued claiming violations of First Amendment


Civil Consequences  Student and parents can be sued Suing for money; no jail time • Homeowners insurance often pays • Judgments can result in home foreclosure and other hardship


Boston v. Doe (Ga. 2012)  “Fatbook” Profile


Boston v. Doe (Ga. 2012)  “Fatbook” Profile • Languages • Hobbies • Fake stories • YouTube Videos • School didn’t punish  Sued creators


Criminal Consequences  Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-311.01  Terroristic Threats: “threatens to commit any crime of violence … • With the intent to terrorize another • In reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror  Class IV Felony punishable by: • Up to 5 years in prison and/or • $10,000 fine


State v. Clemmens


State v. Clemmens  Arrested within a few hours  Charged with making terroristic threats  Sentenced to • 5 months probation • Banned in 4 counties • 2 years of no social media


Sexting


Serious Consequences: Hope Witsell


Criminal Implications of Sexting  Law enforcement reports that Adults prosecuted for possession of child pornography, solicitation and child abuse  Students Prosecuted as well


Iowa v. Canal  Boy and girl friends; not romantic • She asked him to send pic of penis • He complied • Both agreed not erotic  Parents called the cops; boy charged  Jury trial; boy convicted  Appeal rejected by Iowa Supreme Court


In re Juvenile John Does (Fairfax Co. Va 2013)

   

Girls Snapchatted video to boy He forwarded screenshots to friends Three boys arrested at school Each charged with 12 counts of distribution of child pornography  Found guilty, appealing sentences


Florida v. Alpert  Girlfriend sent pics  He forwarded pic to all contacts  Convicted of distribution of child pornography  On sex offender registry until he’s 43


Nebraska Law  Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-813 et. seq.  Makes sexting (images) a class IV felony for offenders under 19  Class IIIA felony for 19 and up  Both punishable by: • Up to 5 years in prison and/or • $10,000 fine • Require sex offender registration


In re Katrina R.  15 year old texted nude pics to her BF  Was adjudicated “a child who deports herself so as to injure or endanger seriously the morals or health of herself or others” • Placed in legal custody of HHS • 6 months’ probation • Required counseling and community service.


Internet Safety


Wisconsin v. Stancl  High school student posed as a girl, tricked male classmates into sending nude photos  Then blackmailed boys into sex acts • Thirty-one victims • Then took photos of the physical encounters


State v. Allen (MI 2012)


5 Things to Think About Before Pressing “Send” or “Post”


1. Don’t assume anything you send or post is private  Majority of sexting incidents involve pictures sent to boyfriend/girlfriend  The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has identified 2,100 victims of online porn, ¼ sent the first images themselves  Every message is stored on a server


2. There is no changing your mind in cyberspace  Nothing you send will ever go away  People checking on-line include: • • • •

Parents College recruiters The NFL Creepy pedophiles


3. If something makes you uncomfortable, don’t do it • Three Basic Strategies For Responding to Requests: 1) Humor 2) Firm No 3) Turn it Around


4. Consider the recipient’s reaction  40% of teen girls say they sexted “as a joke”  20% of teen boys say they expect to hook up with a girl who sexts them


5. Nothing is truly anonymous


Questions?


Questions? (402) 499-0547 H & S School Law @KarenHaase


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