Woman found guilty of Facebook bullying

Woman found guilty of Facebook bullying
Franco Bouly

A 19-year-old woman from St. Gallen has become the first person in Switzerland to be convicted of cyber-bullying after she used social networking site Facebook to insult a man who had complained about a local nightclub's all-night parties.

The St. Gallen district court ruled on Monday to give the woman a 210 franc ($240) suspended fine after she posted Facebook comments referring to her online adversary as a “bloody idiot” (Seckel) and a “dullard” (truurige Mensch), news agency SDA reports. She was also ordered her to pay court costs of 1,250 francs

The dispute arose after the man, a resident of the eastern Swiss city, lodged a successful complaint against the Kugl venue to prevent it from organizing parties that ran long into the morning hours.

A group of club-goers reacted angrily to the city’s decision to side with the complainant and set up a Facebook group to campaign against the clampdown. There a number of dejected clubbers used strong language to denounce the lone resident for taking steps to hinder their late-night lifestyle.

The man said he felt threatened by comments made by the group and reported the incident to the authorities. Three of the abusive Facebook users were issued suspended fines, DPA said. Two of the three accepted their punishment, but the 19-year-old woman at the centre of the case contested her fine and took the case to the district court.

The woman told the court that she had not intended to threaten her online opponent and was not conscious of having done anything wrong.

Her lawyer also pointed out that she had already apologized to the man in writing and offered to pay him compensation.

Ruling against the woman, the judge railed against what he called “a form of virtual mob gathering”. He also described as “alarming” the level of abuse to be found on internet forums in general.