A Georgia Court of Appeals recently held that in the context of a libel/defamation lawsuit, parents can be held responsible for the social media activities of their kids. Here is what happened. A thirteen year old boy who, with assistance from a friend, created a fake Facebook profile for a female classmate; then, pretending to be the classmate, the boy made a series of offensive and outrageous posts, some of which falsely claimed that the classmate suffered from mental illness and took illegal drugs. Following complaints from the victim’s parents, the school suspended the boy for several days, and his parents grounded him for a week; the fake profile, however, remained on Facebook for eleven months. The victim, through her parents, ultimately sued the boy and his parents and the Georgia Court of Appeals, determined that a reasonable jury could find that the boy’s parents, after learning of their son’s behavior, failed to exercise due care from that point onward by allowing the fake profile to remain on Facebook, and that such negligence proximately caused some portion of the injury sustained by the girl. Parents, make sure you are monitoring your child’s use of the internet or you may be held liable for your kids’ actions on the internet.
Boston, et al. v. Athern, et al., Court of Appeals of Georgia, October 10, 2014.