If you ever think about posting a picture to make fun of others you should think twice.
@FSCNarpDaily is a twitter account commonly used by students to make fun of others. Students who use the account, and others like it, may find themselves charged with libel.
Libel, the invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, can be used to sue the person who post, or the account manager depending on the tweet of @FSCNARPDaily
“If there is a factual allegation made that can be proven true or false then you got a libel case,” Associate Professor of Communication Mike Trice said.
Trice teaches the Communication Law and Ethics class at Florida Southern College. According to Trice, in order to be a libel case you have to prove five things.
One is publication, which in this case Twitter counts as a publication.
Trice said that people need to prove identification, the allegation something that people will recognize associated to the plaintiff.
“If you are not identified by the average person in your community then you are not identified,” Trice said.
Trice said that defamation requires evidence of damage to their character. Lastly falsity, which means the information is not true, so they will have to prove negligence.
Trice said it will have to be an actual fact, not an opinion, and prove whether or not it is true or false.
Some students agree on the usage of @FSCNARPDaily account on Twitter.
Senior Taylor Petropulos said that he has posted pictures of his friends and “hopes” that @FSCNARPDaily will retweet it.
“Down the road they could get in trouble for what they are doing,” Trice said. “You have to be careful in making those kinds of allegations.”
There is some difficulty in winning a libel case.
“The legal problem is that [in some tweets] you will have to prove the defamation that could somehow cause you a loss,” Trice said.
Trice said that loss will have to be something tangible, not only a damage in your reputation or character.
“Embarrassment is not enough for a libel case. It has to be like you could not get a job,” Trice said.
Junior Austin Slade believes that this Twitter account started as a joke.
“At first it was ok, but now it only hurts and upsets people,” Slade said.
Petropulos finds the humor in the Twitter account. He believes that is more about making fun of your friends.
“You [people who post] should be aware that there are ramifications for anything that you publish. It is hard to sue for libel but it is there for a reason,” Trice said.
Trice said that just because people who tweet treat their post as a “casual haha” it does not mean that the court will take it the same way.
“If you do make something that can be proven true or false, then somebody could prove damage, and if you can be identified that can be potential libel,” Trice said.
Junior Kenzie McMullen said that this is something expected in high school but not in college.
“I think it is the people who post on this Twitter account are looking for acceptance and popularity on this small, cliquey campus,” McMullen said.
Petropulos is conscious that the account it can affect other people.
“I am sure it will hurt someone else’s feelings because now days you can’t do anything without someone complaining about it,” Petropulos said
Trice disagrees that this site is a joke.
“I think is a joke at the expense of people which I think is cheap humor,” Trice said. “If everybody is in the joke then it is funny, but everyone is not in on this joke.”
Senior Pamela Paradis is not affected about her picture of @FSCNARPDaily because she is “confident.”
“I know some things that are on there can hurt many people and that is when it is not okay,” Paradis said.
McMullen finds it “creepy” that people on campus will focus so much time to “lurk” on other people.
“There is something wrong with people who think this is okay. This is bullying and it’s horrible that as adults we are still doing this,” McMullen said.
In addition the cover photo used in the Twitter account is property of the school.
According to socialmediaexpert.com “The general rule is that you can’t use a copyrighted work without express authorization from the owner. When it comes to photos… assume it’s subject to copyright and don’t use it without the appropriate permission.”
The website also mentioned “What it comes down to is that if you need to use another person’s image, make sure it fits clearly into one of the protected purposes or seek legal counsel if there is a significant investment of money or time in your project.”
E/N: Professor Mike Trice, who teaches Communication Law and Ethics, is also The Southern’s advisor. Kenzie McMullen, who is quoted in this article, has been a past contributor for The Southern.