By Jon Festinger on October 18, 2014
Check out this story: Parents face defamation trial over fake Facebook page their kid made
Fair or not?
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Fair but also not fair. If the reader’s knew it was a child making the webpage, a reasonable person could assume it was hogwash, much like political cartoons.
That being said, I don’t think the fair comment defense would apply here because, A) We presumably did not know at the time that a child produced this, B) Since this was the case, the sexual content posted proved harmful to ones reputation and C) None of the other defamation defenses can apply.
That being said, with regards to it being a child who did this, in the Canadian legal system, matters in this sense go through the parents right?
I’ve got the same question as Kostee, can parents be sued for their children’s actions? Found this on the internet. Is this true?
“A parent cannot be held liable for any actions of their children if they have no knowledge of the action. Serviss (2002) proposes that parents may be held liable under the Doctrine of Allurement. As such, a person (parent) “who leaves dangerous machines … likely to attract children … without taking precautions to prevent the children from interfering with them is liable for injuries sustained by others owing to the meddling of the children” (Serviss 2002, 11). In this way, a computer may be viewed as a “dangerous machine” in which cyberbullying has been initiated and subsequently inflicts injury and harm on another.”
This case is interesting because it is dealing with cyber crime, and holding parents legally accountable for their child’s behaviour, both of which are pretty murky areas in the law. I would agree with Kostee’s assessment that this case is both fair and not fair.
On the one hand I feel that somebody should be held accountable for this Facebook page. It is pretty insidious on the part of the defendants as they included photos, comments of an extremely offensive nature, and an effort to contact multiple people known to the claimant, all because they didn’t like this girl. I think the claimant could make a convincing argument that this had a serious impact on her well being and reputation.
But who exactly needs to be held accountable and how? The individuals involved are probably minors (the article does not explicitly state their ages) so this brings up the question; at what age can a person be held legally accountable for certain behaviours? And if they cannot be held accountable, should their parents be held legally responsible?
I think these parents should have been more responsible since they obviously knew what was going on when their children were suspended and they appear not to have done anything about it. But can they be held legally accountable for ‘bad’ parenting? Probably not.