Social media and other digital methods of communication allow friends to stay connected as never before. Unfortunately, they have also led to a particularly virulent new form of harassment and bullying.
Colleges and universities have reacted by creating extensive Internet use policies. Since most students get access to the Internet through their campus accounts and use campus e-mail, these policies can apply to students both on and off campus, when school is in session and out of session.
Cyberbullying can come in many forms, including spreading rumors; sending a person hurtful or threatening messages; creating a derogatory website or a demeaning, fake profile about a person; or posting private, personal information about a person online.
If you are subject to cyberbullying, remember to document abusive communications. Use screenshots to create a record of offending texts, posts, or other content to present to school administrators. Such evidence can also provide a basis for a lawsuit charging invasion of privacy, defamation, libel, slander, or other personal harm.
At state institutions, however, public pronouncements—whether over the Internet or otherwise—are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Cyberbullying rules are also subject to abuse. Students can file a complaint against you even when content you have posted is harmless–simply because they find it subjectively unpalatable or because it expresses opinions with which they disagree.
An experienced lawyer can help identify the issues raised in a cyberbullying charge and how best to defend against them.