Social media warning after teen is slandered - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Social media warning after teen is slandered

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  A warning for social media users; what you post can be used against you.

It's happened to a southwest Georgia 18 year old. She's the target of a text message and email campaign to slander her character. The attacker got some information about the teen from her Facebook page.

Governor Perdue signed SB 250 in 2009, expanding the definition of bullying, but it doesn't help in this case. The situation reported to the Mitchell County Sheriff's Office involves two adults and it will be tough to make a criminal case.

The Mitchell County Sheriff's Office calls it Harassing Communications. The 18 year old's mother who we won't identify calls the attack against her daughter just malicious.

"My child is completely humiliated and embarrassed and everything that was said about her is completely untrue, but the damage has been done," said the girl's mother.

The Urgent Message used pictures and information from the girl's Facebook page and was texted and emailed to at least several parents at the girls school. The message goes into graphic detail that the 18 year old has STD's that she's looking to pass on to others.

Is it a crime though to send this type of message? Investigators say computer laws in Georgia don't really cover these types of incidents.

"There is computer crimes laws on Georgia law books, but they're very specific to what they cover," said Inv. Kevin Sellers, Mitchell County Sheriff's Office.

Crimes like trespassing, password disclosure, and computer theft.

"I think most of that would come into an issue of slander rather than an actual criminal element according to the law books now," said Seller.

And that's debatable.

"You do have first amendment rights about what you can say under the constitution of the United States," said District Attorney Greg Edwards.

"It's slander versus crime, you know slander is punishable by civil penalties where a breech of Georgia law is punishable by criminal statutes," said Sellers.

"There are statutes that cover this harassing communications in general and what is harassment or bullying would be a jury question under those statutes," said Edwards.

While her mother worries about the effect this will have on her daughter. "Depression, suicidal, that's what I worry about," said the girl's mother.

District Attorney Greg Edwards says its up to social media users to protect themselves, by watching what they post because it could be used against you.

According to the complaint, school officials believe the same person who sent the messages, also called the school impersonating the girl's mother to find out if she was in class. Dougherty

District Attorney Greg Edwards told us he's seen more incidents of this type of cyber crimes coming to his desk.


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