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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 S f t Safety


Cyberbullying? y y g 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.


How Common is Cyberbullying? • one in four students between the g of 11 and 19 have been the ages victim of cyberbullying. • Approximately A i t l 65 percentt off kids kid know of someone who has been cyberbullied.


So what’s what s the big deal?


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


Examples p • Seattle, WA.: Students who “liked” Facebook page bullying a classmate p all suspended • Memphis TN: Honors student suspended for 180 days for commenting on a friend’s status


Civil Consequences • Student and parents can be sued Suing for money; no jail time ─ Homeowners insurance often pays ─ Judgments can result in home f foreclosure l and d other h h hardship d hi • Suit can be for: ─ Intentional I i l infliction i fli i off emotional i l distress ─ Tortuous interference ─ Slander


Fulmer v. Swidler (Pa. 2003) • Middle school student created website:“Teacher website: Teacher Sux Sux” ─ ─ ─

Compared math teacher to Hitler Had picture of her decapitated Asked for contributions toward hit man

• Teacher sued • Jury awarded $500 $500,000 000 • Similar suit by principal settled


D.C. v. R.S. (Cal. 2010) • High school student posted on victim’s website − I want to rip out your f-ing heart and feed it to you. − II've ve wanted to kill you you. − If I ever see you I'm going to pound your head h d iin with ith an iice pick. i k • Familyy sued; defendant de e d said s d jus just a jo jokee • Litigation allowed to continue


Criminal Consequences for Cyberbullying • 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


In re Minor Child (Ala.) • High school students arrested at school for threatening classmate on y p MySpace ─ Threatened to beat him up ─ Said they would plant a bomb in his locker ─ Said he deserved to die

• Charged with making terroristic threats


State v. Murphy (NE) • Girl’s family disliked defendant • On O MySpace M S he h wrote: t ─ He was ggoingg to "beat the hell out of a lot of people" ─ He would be "killing killing a lot of people people.“ ─ Told girlfriend’s sister he didn’t “want to end d up killi killing her h or her h kid.” kid ”

• Charged with making terroristic threats


Sexting


Sexting? Sexting, v: (a combination of sex and texting) is the act of sending sexually ll explicit li it messages or photos electronically, p y p primarily y between cell phones.


How Common is Sexting? g • Sexually suggestive photos sent: ─20% overall ─22% girls ─11% 11% young teen girls (ages 13 13-16) 16) ─18 % boys


How Common is Sexting? g •Sexually suggestive messages sent: ─39% of all teens ─37% girls ─40% 40% boys •48% of teens say they have received sexting ti photos h t or messages.


Sexting?


Serious Consequences: Jessica Logan


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


A.H. v. Florida • Boy and girl in romantic relationship • Took pics of themselves engaged in sexual acts • Boy e-mailed to girl • Both charged with producing and distributing child pornography


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


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


Criminal Implications Under 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 q sex offender registration g ─ Require


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


Internet Safetyy


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


A.Z. v. Doe (N.J.) • Heroes and Cool Kids Program • Anonymous Parent sends school pics from Facebook • Student sues “John Doe”; serves subpoena • Defendant: no defamation therefore no case • Court: C truth h iis an absolute b l d defense f


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, 2,100 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 •

40% of teens say “pressure from guys” is the reason girls post sexual guys messages and pictures


4. Consider the recipient’s reaction •

40% of teen girls say they sexted “as a joke” joke

20% of teen boys say they expect to hook up with a girl who sexts them

Nationally, boys have been criminally prosecuted for sending unsolicited sexts


5. Nothing is truly anonymous


Questions?


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


Lakeview High School