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Is this considered Cyber Bullying or Harrasment

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shmurple

New member
This occurred in NH

I was in a group chat on Facebook Messenger with some friends where we would make jokes about someone I knew who was an asshole and his family. Some of the jokes were about his recently passed father. I know not the highest brow humor but that’s besides the point.

Anyways, we were going off on him and making a ton of jokes and stuff last night. When someone in the group adds all of his family to the group. The admin of the group removed everyone almost immediately and someone screenshotted all of the things we said and sent them to the guys wife. His wife claimed to have called the police and I was wondering if it would be considered cyber bullying or harassment if this happened once. This happened between NH And Massachusetts
 


quincy

Senior Member
This occurred in NH

I was in a group chat on Facebook Messenger with some friends where we would make jokes about someone I knew who was an asshole and his family. Some of the jokes were about his recently passed father. I know not the highest brow humor but that’s besides the point.

Anyways, we were going off on him and making a ton of jokes and stuff last night. When someone in the group adds all of his family to the group. The admin of the group removed everyone almost immediately and someone screenshotted all of the things we said and sent them to the guys wife. His wife claimed to have called the police and I was wondering if it would be considered cyber bullying or harassment if this happened once. This happened between NH And Massachusetts
The subject of your postings potentially could file a complaint with the police.

How old are you and your friends?

Which of the states do you live in, New Hampshire or Massachusetts? Which of the states does the family you harassed live in?

There is nothing even slightly humorous about what you and your friends did. If you are a minor, I hope your parents take away your computer privileges. If you are an adult, I hope you grow up.
 
Last edited:

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
This occurred in NH

I was in a group chat on Facebook Messenger with some friends where we would make jokes about someone I knew who was an asshole and his family. Some of the jokes were about his recently passed father. I know not the highest brow humor but that’s besides the point.

Anyways, we were going off on him and making a ton of jokes and stuff last night. When someone in the group adds all of his family to the group. The admin of the group removed everyone almost immediately and someone screenshotted all of the things we said and sent them to the guys wife. His wife claimed to have called the police and I was wondering if it would be considered cyber bullying or harassment if this happened once. This happened between NH And Massachusetts
By definition, it has to be willful and repetitive harassment in order to be cyberbullying.

While his wife may indeed have called the police, I doubt they did more than take a report, unless there were threats within the messages.

You are not likely to be arrested based on the exchanges in the group, or face some form or restraining order, if there was no (credible) threats made in the messages. (There's always the possibility that someone can convince a judge that an ex parte emergency order is appropriate, but that's temporary by its nature.)

A member of the family could try to sue you (anyone can file). However, in order to win such a suit, there has to be some evidence of damages. For example, if a family business suffered a loss because your malicious conversation included falsehoods that negatively affected the business's reputation. Or, if the guy you dislike is an educator who you falsely accused of being a child molester lost his job and teaching license based on your group's false allegations.

But consider this: there are plenty of people spilling particularly vile things in the comments sections of news items on Facebook, and I haven't heard of anyone being in trouble for that yet.
 

xylene

Senior Member
The evidentiary value of a screencap is not that high

Insulting the deceased is not a crime.

Comport yourself on a more elevated level here on out.
 

quincy

Senior Member
... Insulting the deceased is not a crime ...
Insulting the deceased is not a crime but defaming the deceased potentially could support a lawsuit - at least in a couple of states (not Massachusetts or New Hampshire, though). And criminal libel laws still exist in some states that include "blackening the memory of the dead," but these laws are essentially gathering dust on the books until the legislatures of those states get around to removing them.

Here are two links - just because - on defaming the dead. The first link is to a FreeAdvice staff-written article on slandering a dead person and the second link is to a 2016 book written by Professor Don Herzog of the University of Michigan Law School, on "Defaming the Dead."



Herzog mentions in his book the state of Rhode Island's law against defaming the dead. Texas has a similar law.

Although I think nothing will come from the message exchanges forwarded to the family of the dead man - except disdain and disgust for the writers of those messages - I hope their computers die a rapid death.
 

not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
Insulting the deceased is not a crime but defaming the deceased potentially could support a lawsuit - at least in a couple of states (not Massachusetts or New Hampshire, though). And criminal libel laws still exist in some states that include "blackening the memory of the dead," but these laws are essentially gathering dust on the books until the legislatures of those states get around to removing them.

Here are two links - just because - on defaming the dead. The first link is to a FreeAdvice staff-written article on slandering a dead person and the second link is to a 2016 book written by Professor Don Herzog of the University of Michigan Law School, on "Defaming the Dead."



Herzog mentions in his book the state of Rhode Island's law against defaming the dead. Texas has a similar law.

Although I think nothing will come from the message exchanges forwarded to the family of the dead man - except disdain and disgust for the writers of those messages - I hope their computers die a rapid death.
I would not be so quick to condemn OP. The man may have been fully deserving of their ridicule... or not.

My community has been in turmoil during the past week over events revealed initially over SnapChat. It kind of became an international story. People have very publicly taken sides. Some people have said incredibly nasty things about the victim in the story. I highly doubt that anyone will have to worry about legal action for those very public defamatory comments.

OP and OP's friends were having what they thought was a private conversation.

They should learn that nothing posted online is private.
 

quincy

Senior Member
The back story certainly can be important from a moral standpoint - and insults are just insults, deserved or not. But defamation - and cyber bullying and harassment - are not so easily legally excused.

I think anyone who posts to the internet needs to do some self-censoring before writing.
 

shmurple

New member
The subject of your postings potentially could file a complaint with the police.

How old are you and your friends?

Which of the states do you live in, New Hampshire or Massachusetts? Which of the states does the family you harassed live in?

There is nothing even slightly humorous about what you and your friends did. If you are a minor, I hope your parents take away your computer privileges. If you are an adult, I hope you grow up.
I am a minor, and everyone else was over the age of 18. I live in New Hampshire as do the other members of the groupchat. The family lives mostly in New Hampshire, and one member in Mass.
 

quincy

Senior Member
I am a minor, and everyone else was over the age of 18. I live in New Hampshire as do the other members of the groupchat. The family lives mostly in New Hampshire, and one member in Mass.
Thank you for the additional information, shmurple. It reassures me somewhat that you are a minor. You have time left to mature. :)

I still believe what you and your friends did was wrong, regardless of your reasons for doing so.

New Hampshire has no specific cyberbullying or cyber harassment law. Massachusetts has cybercrime laws but none that seem to be ones the family is likely to explore or be successful with should they pursue this.

But a lot depends on the content of your messages. Any sort of communicated threat of physical harm or violence is taken seriously by all states. And if the subject of your messages is harmed enough by your words that he injures himself (e.g., suicide), you can be publicly exposed for your potential role in his actions.

It can be wise to follow the old adage: If you don't have anything nice to say, it is best to say nothing at all.
 
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