It is more or less a given that one might want to be more careful with one’s Facebook postings and comments, since activity on the social network could be used as evidence against one in a court of law. It does not matter if you bully someone verbally, post offensive content (violent or nude images), or even troll someone or an organization – all of those could eventually land you in the courtroom, as Facebook history is grounds for evidence against the accused in different kinds of criminal cases. At the moment, the US Supreme Court is looking to clarify legal accountability when it comes to social media, but it seems that the first prosecution of its kind has happened in Ireland. A man there was charged with “frape”, which is a term that depicts the perpetrator defacing someone else’s Facebook page from within their account.
According to the Irish Times, this man was slapped with a €2,000 fine (ouch!) after he posted a malicious status update on an ex-girlfriend’s account, doing so with her smartphone, of course. In the past, he has been acquitted of more serious crimes against the ex-girlfriend, but this particular instance saw him plead guilty.
No cybercrime charges were levied in his direction, but he was charged instead under the Criminal Damage Act, which is normally what prosecutors would use whenever physical property is involved. Stateside, one can more or less equate that to vandalism, and it remains to be seen whether this will set precedence for the future, or will it be an isolated judgement?