The Right to Privacy: Teen Sues Mom Over Facebook Harassment
A 16-year-old is suing his mom for allegedly writing "slander" on his Facebook wall, as well as supposedly hacking into his Facebook account and changing his password. The teen maintains his mother, with whom he does not presently reside, invaded his privacy and made statements on his Facebook wall that were of a personal nature and, besides being none of anyone else's business, were untrue.
Denise New, mom of the teen, admits yes she changed the passwords for his Facebook and e-mail accounts, but she had determined her course of action was warranted. Ms. New asserts she was merely monitoring her son's online behavior. Concerned her son was posting information she found worrisome, she took control of his accounts. She also admits to engaging in conversation with his friends on her son's wall, but she says she only posted a handful of things, while her son's friends really were doing most of the commenting.
Her son just doesn't see it that way, and he filed a complaint with the Clark County prosecutor in Arkansas, charging his mom with harassment. And by the looks of things, the case is moving forward.
New isn't going to take this lying down. She made this statement on KTAV-TV:
"Oh yeah, I'm going to fight it. If I have to go even higher up, I'm going to. I'm not gonna let this rest. I think this could be a precedent-setting moment for parents."
Okay, before any of us with teens on Facebook start lawyering up, let's break this down a little. There is definitely more to this story than what is being released for public consumption, but given the 16-year-old is a minor, there won't be much more released unless whomever is legally responsible for this kid gives consent.
Right now, it is up in the air as to who that party would be -- the grandmother, with whom the 16-year-old is living, or the mom, who may not have surrendered her parental rights. But legal issues aside, this situation brings attention to the gray area of parental control when our kids are involved in social networking.
What I would encourage any parent to do is sit down with your teen and discuss the "rules of engagement." Get it all out there in the open, talk about potential problems and what consequences might be expected should they bubble up.
So what is the writing on the Facebook wall concerning this case? Invasion of privacy? Or an act of parental responsibility?