Mother takes Twitter to court over ID of daughter's bully
October 18, 2013 (ELMWOOD PARK, Ill.) (WLS) -- Social media has given teens an open playing field for bullying, but a west suburban mother is fighting back and asking Twitter to reveal the names of people she says have been cyber-bullying her daughter.
That mother wants names and IP addresses of the person or people posting under anonymous twitter accounts. And her court filing comes on the heels of a high-profile criminal case in Florida involving alleged cyber-bullying.
Just the usernames of the two twitter accounts are meant to be hurtful. @dreadfullyLARGE and @dreadfulFATchic. Both pages are now suspended by Twitter.
In court papers plaintiff Rose Martorana-Lollino of Elmwood Park claims her daughter's name and picture were used in the profile.
"I don't blame them for wanting to find out and get to the bottom of it. As a matter of fact, I think it's every parent's responsibility to try and protect their children. It seems to me like that's what they are trying to do - is protect their daughter," said Cathy Samatas, girl's neighbor.
Neighbors are quick to support the Lollino family.
"Just a wonderful child, and the family are too," said Thomas Samatas, girl's neighbor.
Court records allege someone set up two fake profiles for the teenage girl. One uses her name and states: "My passion is eating, plumping up my fat ankles and hoping I stop growing, im a hater, i run Elmwood Park."
"Honestly, I feel horrible for her," said Anita Samatas, neighbor.
Several Tweets are weight-related: "My passion is being fat," reads one. Another: "Hi, my passion is gaining weight."
"It's really sad because unfortunately, especially young girls, hear the negatives in the world so much more than the positives," said Cathy Samatas.
There are sexual Tweets too vulgar to say on TV. One Tweet says: Sext me...and shows the girl's personal phone number.
"I think what's happening is that people are discovering new ways to misbehave in the new media," said Prof. Henry Perritt Jr., IIT Chicago Kent College of Law.
Perritt says this isn't the first time someone has gone to court to force a social media site like twitter to turn over user information, but usually the cases involve a jilted spouse seeking proof of infidelity in a divorce.
Perritt says he expects Twitter to argue their hands are tied by privacy agreements contained in its terms of service.
"If they disclose the identities, and they don't have permission in the contract with the users, there are criminal penalties imposed on them under the Stored Communications Act, the federal statute," he said.
The court filing comes on the heels of the suicide of Florida 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, the result of alleged cyber-bullying by a 14-year-old and 12-year-old, who are now charged with felony aggravated stalking.
Police say the cyber-bullying may have erupted out of jealousy over the attention of a boy, John Borgen.
"I think about her almost every day," Borgen said. "I could have stopped it."
William Kling helped write Illinois' first anti-bullying law and says he expects more parents to seek criminal or civil action against cyber-bullies.
"It might be a watershed moment, a tipping point moment," he said. "I think that people are looking for ways of getting some answers."
In Elmwood Park, that sentiment rings true.
"It makes sense to me. It very much makes sense and I think I would do the same thing too," said Janice Caporale, girl's neighbor.
That mother from Elmwood Park who filed those court papers seeking that user information declined to comment Friday. As did Twitter. The next legal step would be a hearing before a judge, likely in Cook County.
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