Parents are sued for child’s posts on Facebook

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Parents may be held liable in court for damages for things their children post on Facebook, according to a recent decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Seventh-grader Dustin Ahearn created a fake Facebook page for a classmate, Alexandria Boston. The page used a “fat face” app to make the girl look obese, and included posts suggesting that she used drugs, was racist and promiscuous, and had mental health problems.

Alexandria’s parents complained to the school, which suspended Dustin for two days and told his parents. Dustin’s parents punished him, but they neglected to make him take down the site, which remained online for almost a year until Alexandria’s parents sued them.

The court said that Dustin’s parents couldn’t be held liable for the fact that Dustin created the site in the first place, because he did it without their knowledge. However, once they knew about the site, they may have had a legal duty to supervise Dustin’s Internet use, including making him take the site down, the court said.