Beyond Bars: Prisoners Use Facebook to Harass Victims

Web terrorism from behind bars is a growing problem in the UK.

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Most people use Facebook to catch up with friends and waste time at work. A growing number of individuals are using it to taunt or harass victims of crimes they committed while still under lock and key. From Time

Barry Mizen, whose 16-year-old son Jimmy was murdered in 2008, says his family endured months of personal attacks on a Facebook page that was created after Jimmy's killer, Jake Fahri, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison last March. "The words going back and forth were getting really nasty — it was just so undignified," says Mizen, who lives in southeast England. "My children were taking it very personally." Around the same time, taunting messages also started to come from Fahri's Twitter account, including one that said, "Jimmy Mizen was a pathetic loser." "There's got to be more control over this," Barry Mizen says. "Facebook and Twitter have to take responsibility for what goes on their sites."

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Facebook officials in the U.S. and Europe say they don't know whether this harassment problem extends beyond Britain, the only place where such cases have been made public. "We believe this is really a case of first impression," says Tim Sparapani, Facebook's director of public policy in Washington. "We've searched far and wide within the company and, among the collective memories of staff, we think this has no precedent."

Should this problem extend stateside, how would you address this problem?