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Court Rules MySpace Posting Not Private

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A California court has ruled that a high school principal who sent a copy of a MySpace journal posting to a local newspaper is not liable for invasion of privacy.

University of California at Berkeley student Cynthia Moreno wrote a journal entry on her MySpace page complaining about her hometown of Coalinga, Calif. The post was titled "An Ode to Coalinga" and began with "the older I get the more I realize how much I despise Coalinga" and then went on to make negative comments about Coalinga and its residents.

Privacy

The post was on Moreno’s MySpace profile for about a week before she removed it. Roger Campbell, principal of Coalinga High School, saw the post and sent it to the local paper the Coalinga Record where it was published as a letter to the editor with Moreno’s full name.

After the letter was published Moreno’s family received death threats and a shot was fired at their home. The family  later moved out of town. They sued for invasion of privacy and for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The claims against the paper were dismissed under the state’s SLAPP statue (strategic lawsuits against public participation), which allows media to move to dismiss lawsuits that target speech in an attempt to block it.

 The court ruled that Moreno gave up any claims of privacy when she posted the writing on MySpace. "Cynthia’s affirmative act made her article available to any person with a computer and thus opened it to the public eye," the court said. "Under these circumstances, no reasonable person would have had an expectation of privacy regarding the published material."

Moreno’s claim against the principal for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the court said that a jury should decide if the principal’s actions were "extreme and outrageous."
 

Court Rules MySpace Posting Not Private
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  • http://randomplaza.com/help.anonymous.php Anonymous

    This blog entry didn’t say if it was one of those annoying private myspace posts, an annoying trend that started with livejournals. I skimmed the court ruling and it said it was a public myspace post, which I think is important.

    I don’t know what the court would do with a private myspace entry.

    • http://www.cafepress.com/gendesigns glenda

      I was wondering the same thing!

      • Tom

        I think it’s become clear that even “private” postings aren’t considered such legally.

  • USA Advocate

    Unfortunately that is the corollary to freedom of speech and the First Amendment. You can say whatever you want, but you must also be held responsible for the consequences, and it is sad that in today’s America, you can’t say what you feel or what you believe without being vilified or totally destroyed for saying what you believe or what you feel. That principal should be fired! He/she was not exercising his/her/its right to freedom of speech, rather it was attempting to call and attention to and destroy this young student’s opinion (speech). Incredibly sad that this is what our country has come to – we need to wake up and realize what a totalitarian country we have become!

  • http://www.daxii.com Privacy

    Many people (specially young ones) are not aware that posting texts & posts are public, specially with twitter.
    Twitter messages should be private (only for followers) by default.

  • http://asylum-et.com/ Asylum

    If the girl did not submit this to the newspaper herself it does not matter where it was found, it should not have been allowed into the paper at all. Letters to the editor are for “your” voice to be heard, not someone else’s of your choosing. This teacher read it and it pissed him off so he intentionally outed the girl and her whole family knowing full well what the outcome could be.

  • angela

    I was “written up” at work for a posting I placed on myspace regarding fmla abuse. My myspace is set to private and coworker who is not on my friends list somehow copied everything off of my myspace and sent it to the corparate office with a letter saying she was offended and I had created a “hostile” work environment for her. I am currently attempting to fight this and have it removed from my file. Its absolutely ridiculous I’m also considering a lawsuit against this coworker the myspace terms and conditions of myspace state you cannot copy print or distribute anything off of myspace unless you post it yourself.