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Will it be a felony in Texas to fake a Facebook profile?


Online Media Daily reports that Texas lawmakers passed a bill intended to crack down on cyber-bullying.  The new “online harassment” statute makes it a felony to create phony profiles on social networking sites with the intent to “harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten” others.  The bill now awaits the governor’s signature.  The Texas statute, if signed by the governor, will surely be challenged on First Amendment grounds.

There have been attempts by other lawmakers to address the problem of online bullying.  Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), has introduced a federal measure to outlaw the practice.  These efforts follow the highly publicized suicide of 13-year-old Megan Meier. In Meier’s case, people created a fake MySpace profile of a fictional boy, “Josh,” who sent messages to Megan. She killed herself after receiving a final message from Josh — a statement that the world would be a better place without her.

It’s not realistic to expect any law to stop people from creating fake profiles on social networks–according to the advertising media, many Fortune 500 companies have “guerilla marketing” campaigns involving fake social profiles.  But Texas’ statute, with its limitation to cases involving the intent to “harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten” others, looks like a good first effort at addressing the cyber-bullying problem.

About Michael J. Evans

Michael J. Evans is a personal injury lawyer who represents people with claims involving defective medicine or medical devices, other defective products that cause serious injury or death, and environmental cases. Evans also handles whistleblower lawsuits in which employees, or former employees, expose fraud or other illegal conduct by the corporation for which they work(ed), Evans organizes litigation groups of plaintiffs law firms to work with him on these cases nationwide. Evans uses social media, blogs, online video, mobile apps and traditional media to connect with clients, and help other prominent law firms connect with clients.. Evans is also an advocate for the rights of consumers. His primary areas of legal practice are mass torts, and advising law firms on the ethical rules and law governing legal marketing via the Internet and social media.

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