Supreme Court To Hear Facebook Bullying Case

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A Nova Scotia girl's fight to have disparaging Facebook postings about her kept secret is going to the Supreme Court of Canada. | Getty Images


A Nova Scotia girl's fight to have disparaging Facebook postings about her kept secret is going to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The case could ultimately weigh the privacy of someone who has been tormented against the public's right to transparency in the legal system.

The girl, known as A.B. in court rulings, was the victim of cyber bullying. In March 2010, when she was 15, someone created a fake Facebook profile under a name slightly different than hers, with her picture and other identifying information.

The profile contained comments on her weight and appearance and, it is alleged, "scandalous sexual commentary of a private and intimate nature," as the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal characterized it. The profile was taken down later that month.

Halifax lawyer Michelle Awad, acting on the girl's behalf, found out from Facebook the internet address of the person who posted and updated the profile. The IP address, as it's known, was traced to a Dartmouth, N.S., customer of Maritimes internet provider Eastlink.

When A.B. then applied to the courts to force Eastlink to turn over the name of its customer so she could sue for libel, she asked that the judge shield her identity and the content of the hoax Facebook profile from publication.

The judge agreed to order Eastlink to comply, but denied the publication ban. The girl's appeal to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal was also denied.

As is its practice, the Supreme Court of Canada did not give reasons in its decision on Thursday to hear the matter. But a summary posted on the court's website states that issues include the "inherent vulnerability of young girls subject to online sexualized bullying" and the "serious risk of harm to them if they are required to republish comments and reveal their identity to seek a remedy."

No date has been set for the hearing of the appeal. The earliest the top court would likely rule on the case would be fall 2012.

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