News Comment

Sunday 31 August 2014

Court's ruling on 'fraping' sets legal precedent

Adrian Weckler

Published 01/07/2014 | 02:30

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This court ruling is the first of its kind for the practice known as 'fraping'
This court ruling is the first of its kind for the practice known as 'fraping'

IT'S something many of us have done as a practical joke. But an altogether more serious version of what is often referred to as 'fraping' has cost one man €2,000 and a criminal conviction.

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'Fraping' is the process of accessing someone's Facebook feed and posting an embarrassing 'status update' as a prank. In an era of ubiquitous smartphones and Facebook members (well over half of all Irish adults are signed up, according to recent research), it is sometimes regarded as an occupational hazard. Teenagers and young people often engage in it light-heartedly.

But yesterday's court ruling could make us think twice about interfering with another's social media feed.

To be fair, this was no practical joke. This was someone publishing a malicious slur in revenge for an emotional grievance within a relationship.

Even so, it gives 'fraping' a legal precedent – and a sentencing benchmark – that can now be referred to in future. It also makes people aware that they can take legal action if someone enters one's social media feed and publishes false and malicious information.

The legal case comes at the same time as new proposals by the government seek to tweak existing law to make it easier to prosecute online harassment. Similar moves to tighten up the state's role in fighting cyberbullying are also occurring, mainly within the education system.

But for the ordinary punter, fraping just took on a whole new set of considerations.

Irish Independent

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