One area that raises policy and legal
concerns relates to cyberstalking, which is the use of the Internet or
other electronic means to stalk or harass an
individual, or a group of people. This can take on
many forms, from an angry ex to pedophiles. The
concept of cyberstalking is closely related to
cyber-bullying and, as a result, has gained nationwide
attention as of late. Even though the ways in which
people stalk via the internet are constantly changing
and adapting, laws on both the state and federal level
have done a very poor job of keeping up.
An example of which can be found in the following
Case: Lawyers get Cyberstalked, via Twitter
Wayne Connely, a California man, was very angry at
criticism he received from Mark Bennett, a lawyer who
accused Connely of manufacturing fake Twitter accounts
to redirect traffic to a website that Connely managed.
Using Twitter to retaliate against Bennett, Connely
created a series of fake accounts to continuously
stalk and harass Bennett through offensive messages.
Not content with solely harassing Bennett, Connely's
cyber-vendetta expanded to include an
ever-growing list of lawyers he followed and harassed.
2. Content on the Services
3. Your Rights
Response 2: Legislation at the Federal
and State Levels
At the federal level: 47 USC 223- Covers obscene or
harassing telephone calls in the District of Columbia
or in interstate or foreign communications. The
definition of “telecommunications device” in the law
includes any device or software that can be used to
originate telecommunications or other types of
communications that are transmitted, in whole or in
part, by the Internet.
in mind: No explicit provision exists covering
Internet or cyberspace stalking, which makes
prosecution more difficult than it could be.
Many states have
revised their laws to include Internet stalking,
typically by expanding traditional stalking
definitions to include electronic forms of
Horizon Group Management, LLC v Amanda Bonnen, Cook County No.
2009 L 867:
Libel suit brought by Horizon
Group Management, a reality company, against a tenant
who had posted a Tweet on May 12, 2009, to her friends
that said, “You should just come anyway. Who said
sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon
realty thinks it's ok.” Horizon sought $50,000 in
damages. Dismissed on January 21, 2010, judge felt the
message was too vague to meet the definition of libel.
Introduction: The rise in fake Twitter accounts has
been a concern for celebrities and businesses. Twitter
has begun to address this issue with the creation of
“Verified Account” status for limited numbers of
individuals, which serves to indicate that a Twitter
account belongs to the person who it claims to be.
Because there is no verification process at the
creation of an account, multiple accounts can pop up,
all claiming to be the same person. When this person
is a public figure or celebrity, tweets coming from
this account can cause problems, especially if they
say anything inflammatory, controversial, or
Legal response in state law
State law has begun to address the problem of
One example can be found in California Bill- SB 1411,
which was signed into law
on September 27, 2010; It reads:
528.5. (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of
law, any person who knowingly and without consent
credibly impersonates another actual person through or
on an Internet Web site or by other electronic means
for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or
defrauding another person is guilty of a public
offense punishable pursuant to subdivision (d).
(d) A violation of subdivision (a) is punishable by a
fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or
by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one
year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
LaRussa v. Twitter (3:09-cv-02503-EMC): Anthony LaRussa, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, sued
Twitter after an unknown Twitter user created an
account at twitter.com/TonyLaRussa and post updates
posing as La Russa. The fake Twitter page included La
Russa's photo and a handful of vulgar and apparently
Cardinals-related updates. One line of the "profile"
suggested it was all a fake: "Bio Parodies are fun for
everyone." Case was settled out of court.
After Jordan Shipley was signed by the Cincinatti Bengals, Chad
Ochocinco sent a congratulatory tweet to what he
thought was Shipley’s Twitter account. When Shipley
didn’t respond, Ochocino tweeted an angry message. The
only problem was, the account was fake. When this was
figured out, the rift was mended. Shipley said, “It is
a little scary that people can get on there and say
what they want to, and people don't know that it's not
you. They can make it look just like it was mine.”
One of the biggest concerns
with a site like Twitter relates to the issue of
privacy. A typical question that users may have is: “How much of my
information is actually safe?” Users can make their
timelines private, but once a tweet is re-tweeted by
another user, it irreversibly becomes public. Further,
you can geo-tag your tweets, letting followers know
where you are (i.e. where you AREN’T... like at your
What information posted on Twitter is truly
1. In 2008, users accessing Twitter through
third-party applications discovered that their direct
messages were part of their public timeline.
2. In 2008, the
Twitter accounts of a number of celebrities and public
figures, including President Obama and Britney Spears,
were hacked and inappropriate messages were posted.
3. In 2010, Twitter settled charges from the FTC
alleging that Twitter deceived customers and did not
protect their private information. Two separate
security breaches occurred, resulting in compromised
passwords and hackers gaining administrative control
of Twitter. http://tinyurl.com/3yrh2k6