An excellent story that adds a layer of complexity to parental controls and knowledge of their children’s online activity has come about in Arkansas. CNET has the summary article, and here is an excerpt:
A teenager in Arkansas, however, has become so annoyed with his mother’s Facebook intrusion that he has reportedly decided to sue her for harassment.
The claim is the mother hacked into the Facebook account, changed his password and made some postings under his account name. The mother states she has every right to do so and is defending that in court come May.
Here are both sides of argument from us at SocialStalking only, not as attorneys:
Her intention was ok
The mother was trying to act in some responsible manner of seeing what and why her teenager was making particular postings. The better approach would have been to actually communicate with the teenager and have them log into their Facebook account while she sat there. This would keep some of the trust and respect factor between them while allowing parenting to occur.
Parents always wish to know what is going on with their kids online and do not have well defined rules, guidelines and restrictions of how they will interact. Her exact quote allows them to take the below stance when she said
“You’re within your legal rights to monitor your child and to have a conversation with your child on Facebook whether it’s his account, or your account, or whoever’s account.”
Yes, with monitor being the key here. You could not hack into another adults account legally. Monitoring does not include taking over. It means watching, reviewing and even logging/taking notes on content.
Her intention broke numerous rules
The mother made one major mistake that the article from CNET mentions. She hacked into a computer account with malicious intent. This, in itself, is a crime she has admitted to. She has accessed a computer (Facebook server) without authorization and with intent to portray herself as someone else. Now enter identity theft arguments. The teenager has a strong case if he follows this and removes the emotional and parental battle from the fight. The local Clark County laws even address this as quoted in the article.
If the teenager was on the parents computer, it is not the one in question. The Facebook server is the one in question and was hacked by the mother. She had no technological right to do so and should have relied on parental rights such as knowing the passwords and lines of communication.
The legal battle needs to be separated far from the parental battle to clearly understand this. The parent broke laws. Good intentions do not allow this. The parent took offense to what the child was posting. Good parenting and communication resolves that portion. We hope they both win in court and later parenting.