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  1. #1

    Default Can You be Prosected for Harassment Over a Satirical Website

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: MS

    This question involves a satirical profile on social media. I doubt this is even worth a post, but I told the ones involved that I would ask, for purposes of knowledge.

    Hypothetically years ago during a military deployment some guys other than me, established a Facebook page using random images from the internet and used image altering applications to portray an iconic " southern redneck ". The page was developed to poke fun of the stigma given to this genre of lifestyle, as the guys that designed the facebook page were of the southern states. The Facebook page was designed solely for fun and to give the ones with the password a bit of humor while in between missions in the sandbox( Iraq ).

    At any rate the profile states that it is just for fun and the vernacular used by this profile is hard to understand and uses severely misspelled words and southern dialect, very similar to a Jeff Foxworthy comedy show.

    The Facebook profile gradually became a hit with members of the Armed Forces and gained a huge following. One of the attractions of the profile is that most of the images were photoshopped of a person's face and another image to make a statement with implied humor, i.e. the mayor of a city back in the states face transposed on the Incredible Hulk, with the caption " mayor XYZ vowed to personally take on crime in the city of ABC last night during the press conference." This is what the Facebook page basically comprised of; post that most any reasonable person would deduct as satire and for the purpose of humor. As time progressed the Facebook page progressed with friends and followers for the humor that the page provided to the troops.

    Here's where the legal questions arise. In an unfortunate event a female troll began making derogatory statements on the Facebook page in comments about the troops, and the mission that they were fulfilling, as ordered by their Commander and Chief. In the name of humor the guys with access to the satirical facebook page began to transpose the female into images with the images of random things, as simple as her image in a truck hauling pigs or chickens, never publishing her name, and never giving a way to contact her. The majority of comments illustrated that friends and followers thought the images were hilarious. The images in no way portrayed any lewd, obscene, or harmful acts, the randomness and ridiculousness of the images is what drew the comments from anyone who viewed and chose to comment as the Facebook profile was set to public.

    Long story short, the female's father has since then sent messages to the Facebook profile stating he knows where the profile is being logged in from, and he is pressing charges for bullying and harassment as well as cyber stalking for using the female's image without permission, and repeatedly using her in images.

    My understanding is that there may be an issue of copyright as far as the images go, but once an image is transformed/ photoshopped to a point that the original is no longer recognized, that the amended image could be considered " art ", and fall under protections of the 1st Amendment. As far as the criminal charges the father wishes to pursue, I would think the actual female, an adult would be the one that would need to make a report. I am not sure how harassment or even bullying would be construed as the images in no way publish the female's name or a way to contact her, other than her image being transposed into images of people doing ordinary everyday things, it's just the crowd in the images that draws the humor. Anyway I think it is just this individual female that has her feelings hurt and embarrassed, although she initiated the contact with the Facebook page. Just told these guys I would run this across the board for discussion, to get opinions, and to keep them out of " hot water ".

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    5,585

    Default Re: Satirical Social Media Page Accused of Cyberbullying

    The details matter, and not having seen the images and posts all I can say is that there is a potential for legal trouble with this sort of thing. In addition to possible copyright issues, there is also potential trademark issues too. There may be violations of the Facebook TOS. There may be violations of the UCMJ or other other military regulations. I can’t imagine that your command would be happy with the way this activity makes the military look, after all. And yes, perhaps some kind of harassment charges might apply too. Again, the exact details matter. Note that anyone may file a criminal complaint; it does not have to be the alleged victim. So the father certainly may file criminal complaints with various civilian and military law enforcement and your command. It would then be up to the prosecutors and your command as to what action to take over this. If this site is still being run, it is probably a good idea to take it down. Even it is not illegal, putting up material to make fun of specific people like this young woman is despicable behavior and grown men and women should know better.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Satirical Social Media Page Accused of Cyberbullying

    Makes sense to me. The guys involved with the aforementioned social media page are no longer in the Military, so UCMJ not command would come into play in the instant matter. I only discussed military to explain how the satirical social media page began.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2016
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    Default Re: Satirical Social Media Page Accused of Cyberbullying

    Quote Quoting BlitzGS430
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    Makes sense to me. The guys involved with the aforementioned social media page are no longer in the Military, so UCMJ not command would come into play in the instant matter. I only discussed military to explain how the satirical social media page began.
    Are any of them retired? If you're retired you can be recalled and prosecuted under UCMJ.

    "Army Regulation 27-10, Military Justice, states “Retired members of a regular component of the Armed Forces who are entitled to pay are subject to the provisions of the UCMJ . . . and may be tried by court-martial for violations of the UCMJ that occurred while they were on active duty or while in a retired status.”

    Generally it has to be an extraordinary circumstance and the crime has to have a clear tie to the military or discredits the service. But it could be possible if any of those guys are retired running that page could be brought up on UCMJ.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Can You be Prosected for Harassment Over a Satirical Website

    Good research qwaspolk69.. I would think that would deal more with a murder or stealing from the gov't. while a service member was in service. Sure you've heard of the numerous rapes and sexual assaults in the military that command turns a blind eye to, even going as far as discharging the victim to get rid of the complaint. I've seen law enforcement come on to bases before to MPs, and MPs tell the civilian LEOs, that this is " a civilian matter ". It's a game of passing the buck in the UCMJ system. Unless this female described above were the base commander's daughter, or the Washington Post and New York Times followed every move of this, a complaint to CID and MPs would fall upon deaf ears. That's just the real world.

    From 20 yrs. of service I can almost say from a long standing precidence, if something, such as a minor infraction does not help the command earn an award or promotion, which equates to picuniary value to them, they could give a dam less. The command and CID would see this as something else on their list of things to do that would cost a lot of their time and result in no gain for them, and they would not want to touch it. Regulations are regulations, but they are not always followed. That's just real world military.

    Oh I forgot to include that the female described as being made fun of on the satirical website had accused one of the soldiers of rape years ago, all in an effort to make it seem she had not had extracurricular affairs aside from her then husband. That's neither here nor there, but gives you an idea of the individual being " harassed ". Again, not that's it's important, but none of this pertains to me, , the OP, I am simply trying breaking the legalities down, because that's what I enjoy doing.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    Default Re: Can You be Prosected for Harassment Over a Satirical Website

    Quote Quoting BlitzGS430
    View Post
    Good research qwaspolk69.. I would think that would deal more with a murder or stealing from the gov't. while a service member was in service. Sure you've heard of the numerous rapes and sexual assaults in the military that command turns a blind eye to, even going as far as discharging the victim to get rid of the complaint. I've seen law enforcement come on to bases before to MPs, and MPs tell the civilian LEOs, that this is " a civilian matter ". It's a game of passing the buck in the UCMJ system. Unless this female described above were the base commander's daughter, or the Washington Post and New York Times followed every move of this, a complaint to CID and MPs would fall upon deaf ears. That's just the real world.

    From 20 yrs. of service I can almost say from a long standing precidence, if something, such as a minor infraction does not help the command earn an award or promotion, which equates to picuniary value to them, they could give a dam less. The command and CID would see this as something else on their list of things to do that would cost a lot of their time and result in no gain for them, and they would not want to touch it. Regulations are regulations, but they are not always followed. That's just real world military.

    Oh I forgot to include that the female described as being made fun of on the satirical website had accused one of the soldiers of rape years ago, all in an effort to make it seem she had not had extracurricular affairs aside from her then husband. That's neither here nor there, but gives you an idea of the individual being " harassed ". Again, not that's it's important, but none of this pertains to me, , the OP, I am simply trying breaking the legalities down, because that's what I enjoy doing.
    Yes I know about all the rapes and sexual assaults. I was a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for 2 1/2 years. I'm very well versed in that epidemic. It also depends on the unit and the chain of command. Some take it seriously. Some don't. Some civilian LEO don't care, some do. In my case, the CID agents on my base were very good at their jobs and very thorough in EVERY sexual assault or rape allegation. It's case by case. Not all commanders are the same and not all commands are the same. They are human and humans are imperfect.

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