UPDATE, July 31, 2013:
Carolina Picchio, 14, is teenager from Novara, northern Italy, who was bullied to such an extent on Facebook that she took her own life in January. A video surfaced on the social media site of Picchio drunk at a party. Now her parents and prosecutors in Italy are demanding answers from Facebook as to why the bullying was allowed to go on, and Facebook is facing criminal action.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. The Italian Parent’s Association Filed a Complaint Against Facebook
Antonio Affinita, a director in the Italian Parent’s Association, told the Daily Telegraph:
This is the first time a parent’s group has filed such a complaint against Facebook in Europe. Italian law forbids minors under 18 signing contracts, yet Facebook is effectively entering into a contract with minors regarding their privacy, without their parents knowing.
Affinita went on to call Picchio’s death the “last straw” after a 15-year-old Rome boy, referred to only as “AS,” committed suicide after he was outed as an homosexual on Facebook. The boy’s mother denied her son was gay.
2. The Video of Picchio Appeared Just After She Broke Up With Her Boyfriend
Picchio’s boyfriend had begun to insult her on Facebook prior to their breaking up. A note found in her bedroom, addressed to her boyfriend, read:
Isn’t what you have done to me enough? You have made me pay too many times.
And just prior to taking her own life, she wrote on Facebook:
Forgive me if I am not strong. I cannot take it any longer.
The video of Picchio featured her apparently drunk in a bathroom at a party. Even after her death it was reported that bullies continued to taunt her through Facebook. The suspects are eight boys, aged 15 to 17. They are undergoing questioning from police and prosecutors.
3. Her Death Calls Facebook’s Anti-Bullying Practices Into Question
In 2011, Facebook announced intentions to bring about a “culture of respect” on the site.
Facebook public policy communications manager Andrew Noyes told Mashable:
There was heightened awareness around LGBT bullying. … We’ve certainly talked to our Network of Support and safety advisory board, and they’re very excited about these features.
But how well are “these features” working?
4. Italy Previously Went After Google in a Bullying Case
— Carolina Picchio (@Carolina13981) October 29, 2012
There is a history in Italy of action against Internet bullying. The New York Times reported in 2012:
[Three Google] executives were sentenced to six-month suspended sentences by a lower court judge who said they had been too slow to remove a video from a Google-owned Web site in which teenagers bullied an autistic boy.
After an appeal the conviction was overturned, the Times reported:
Google insists that it acted swiftly to take down the video in question after being alerted to it, on grounds that the content violated its terms of service. Google said Friday that the successful appeal had vindicated its position. “We’re very happy that the verdict has been reversed and our colleagues’ names have been cleared,” Giorgia Abeltino, the policy manager at Google Italy, said in a statement. “Of course, while we are delighted with the appeal, our thoughts continue to be with the family, who have been through the ordeal,” she said, referring to the autistic boy.
5. A Facebook Page Pays Tribute to Picchio
Ironically, the social network being blamed for her death is the location of a page in her honor — mix of love for a lost friend and venom toward her tormentors.