Sunday, December 08, 2013

Online bullying case in Texas stirs debate on legal (criminal and civil) liability -- (Sharkeisha)

Legal questions about photographing bullying and then posting it online have arisen after an incident where a teenage girl “Sharkeisha” beat “ShaMichael Manual”. 
There are questions as to whether the person who photographed the incident, which occurred in Texas, could face criminal and civil liability, as well as those who posted the video online on many sites.  Most major sites like YouTube took the video down as TOS violations, for fortunately there is no legitimate link to give.  But the legal question is troubling.  What if someone links to it?  What if someone embeds it in a blog?
The question was discussed on CNN and the general impression was that a person would have to be an intentional participant in the original bullying to be criminally liable, at least in most states.
The comments was offered that every viewing of the incident online was like another “sucker punch”. Embedding it could be viewed as “intentional infliction of emotional distress”. Yet I found many legitimate news sites had apparently embedded videos of the incident.

The incident could be related to the “knockout game” where people are punched in public and videotaped.  The comment was made that, in the Internet world, some people crave attention and “fame” so much they will do anything “bad” to get it.  
Huffington Post has a story (Dec. 6) and video about the incident here. Rolling Out has a story “5 facts” that seems helpful here.
It’s obvious that this will cause more questions about Section 230. 

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