Facebook Lawsuit Targets Former High School Classmates
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A New York college student is suing a group of former high school classmates, as well as their parents and Facebook, claiming students posted false information about her on a Facebook wall and allowed it to remain. The suit comes shortly after Facebook did an about-face during a recent copyright imbroglio in which the social networking site claimed ownership of all content posted to the site, then backed off on the change to its terms of service.
According to coverage in Newsday and Albany Student Press, Denise Finkel, who is now a freshman at the University of Albany, has filed a $3 million defamation and negligence lawsuit against four 2008 graduates of Oceanside High School, where she attended school.
The suit accuses the students of setting up a password-protected Facebook group, called, ".90$ short of a dollar," with the intention of holding the plaintiff "up to public hatred, ridicule and disgrace." Among the postings were those accusing Finkel of having contracted AIDS and of performing bestiality.
Six parents of the students were also named in the suit, since the defendants were still minors when the online group was created.
Attorney Mark Altschul, who is representing Finkel, was quoted in the university student newspaper as saying that Facebook is included in the suit because it "should be held responsible for content posted on its pages."
A Facebook spokeswoman responded, "... Facebook does not claim ownership of anything users post on the site.... We see no merit to this suit and we will fight it vigorously."
According to a non-scientific poll attached to the Newsday coverage of the suit, the majority of readers consider the lawsuit fair, but 28.5 percent question why she's including Facebook in the suit. Another 35 percent of respondents said Finkel should have simply deleted the defendants as friends.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.