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VICE News

Man Fined $2,700 In Unprecedented Facebook 'Fraping' Case

An Irish man found himself in court after he posted a defamatory status update on his ex-girlfriend's Facebook account.

by Olivia Becker
Jul 8 2014, 4:30pm

Photo by Maria Elena

When an Irish man took his ex-girlfriend’s phone and posted an embarrassing status to her Facebook, it wasn't just obnoxious. For the first time, it was also a crime.

In an unprecedented case, a man in Ireland pleaded guilty to criminal charges after he posted on the woman's Facebook account that she was a “whore” and “would take any offers.”

He'd been prosecuted under the country's Criminal Damages Act, which imposes a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and $13,600 fine. The case marked the first time someone had been held liable for damages involving a social media account.

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When the man suspected his ex had moved on to another relationship, he reportedly broke into her home in April 2011 to confront her. After he left — he was also charged with false imprisonment and rape, but was acquitted by a jury on both counts — she realized that her phone was gone. He had taken it to look through her text messages, and said he subsequently discovered that she was, in fact, with someone else. So he posted the status on her Facebook.

The man avoided prison time when the judge determined a monetary penalty was more appropriate, fining the defendant $2,700.

The use of the word 'fraping' has provoked controversy, since it equates the defacing of a social media account with actual sexual assault.

The judge said there was no precedent to guide the outcome of the world’s first criminal “fraping” case — an awful term popularized in part by an Irish senator who defined it as being "raped on Facebook.” The term refers to when a third party gains access to someone’s private social media account and changes the information, posts status updates or pictures, or sends messages. The word has provoked controversy, with many people justifiably angry about the misuse of a social media account being compared to actual sexual assault.

The man's lawyer pointed out that he now has a new girlfriend.

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Photo via Flickr