11/25/2014 02:02 EST | Updated 11/25/2014 02:59 EST

Communet App Target Of Calgary Father's Legal Action


A Calgary father is threatening to sue someone who used a social networking app to post nasty comments about his teenage daughter. But there's a big problem: the comments are all anonymous.

James Swanson, the father's lawyer, said in a CBC News interview that the vulgar and alleged defamatory comments about the girl have "affected her health” and has led her to seek medical attention.

Communet: Student Chats & Confessions touts itself as an app “for students made by students.” It's intended to allow students to give shoutouts to friends, compliment other students, and discuss homework, but it has quickly turned into a platform for online bullying.

Hateful, sexist, degrading, and racist comments are common.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection sent an online alert advising parents to delete the application if their child has already downloaded it, and to have an open and honest discussion with their children about cyberbullying and harassment.

Officials in the Foothills School Division are also warning parents about Communet, reported High River Online.

Launched this April, Communet been downloaded more than 10,000 times by mostly high school and university students, according to the app's maker Dreamscape Labs.

The company turned down Swanson's request for records on the anonymous cyber bully in his client's case. Now, the lawyer says he must apply for a court order to force the company to hand over the information.

“There’s a pattern to it that leads us to conclude that we’re pretty sure we know who it is,” Swanson told the Calgary Herald.

Shoaib Hasan, Communet's developer, told CBC News that the anonymity feature was to reduce negative backlash on unpopular opinions. Hasan said the Communet team is currently working on creating a system to filter comments containing curse words.

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