- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Georgia appellate court’s ruling that parents may be held liable for their children’s Facebook activity appears to have set legal precedent.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled Oct. 10 that parents who did not force their child to delete a fake and defamatory Facebook profile for 11 months can be held liable for damages suffered by the target of the account, The Wall Street Journal reported.

A Georgia boy posted a fake account under the name of one of his female peers in 2011. After the girl’s family contacted the school, the boy was disciplined by administrators and his parents were notified, the Journal reported. For almost a year, however, the account remained active with sexually explicit comments and derogatory pictures.

Facebook ultimately intervened, but the court ruled that the boy’s parents could be held responsible for trauma inflicted upon the girl due to their inaction.

“Given that the false and offensive statements remained on display, and continued to reach readers, for an additional eleven months, we conclude that a jury could find that the [parents’] negligence proximately caused some part of the injury [the girl] sustained from [the boy’s] actions (and inactions),” wrote Judge John J. Ellington in the opinion, which was backed by two other judges, the Journal reported.

Atlanta litigator Edgar S. Mangiafico Jr., who defended the boy’s parents, said he would appeal the ruling, the Journal reported. Regardless, he and the attorney for the girl agreed that they could not find a previous court ruling with the same legal implications.

Natalie Woodward, an attorney who represented the girl’s family, told the Journal that in “certain circumstances, when what is being said about a child is untrue and once the parents know about it, then liability is triggered.”

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