An Irish court has fined a man €2,000 for taking a woman’s mobile phone and using it to post sexually abusive status updates on her Facebook account.
Prosecutors used an old law, the Criminal Damage Act of 1991, to bring the case and the conviction is believed to be the first establishing “Facebook rape” or “frape” as a crime in the country, the Financial Times reports.
The crime carries a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison, according to The Independent. It is being seen as an adjunct to new laws proposed or enacted in the U.S. and the U.K. that ban “revenge porn,” or the act of posting intimate pictures of ex-lovers online.
The FT adds:
Dublin’s central criminal court heard that the defendant, a 30-year-old man from Donegal who cannot be named for legal reasons, went to confront his ex-girlfriend on April 6 2011 over a perceived infidelity and left, having taken her mobile phone.
After reading text messages which confirmed she was in a new relationship, he used the phone to log into her Facebook account, posting a status update in her name stating that she was a “whore” who would take “any offers”.
He was acquitted of charges of actual rape and imprisoning the woman in her own home.
Bizarrely, the man and his victim remain friends, according to The Irish Times. The incident occurred after the man had become drunk and jealous. Neither party has been named for legal reasons. The woman quickly spotted the abusive updates and deleted them.
Police investigated, and the man incriminated himself, making the case, The Irish Times said:
Counsel said his guilty plea was very helpful to the garda [the Irish police], particularly because nobody from Facebook had given a statement or was ever likely to.
It would not be possible to bring a “criminal damage to a social media account” case under English law, experts told the FT. Victims would have to file civil lawsuits instead.
Urban Dictionary, the online site where modern slang is cataloged, has carried a definition for “frape” since 2007:
The act of Raping someones Facebook profile when they leave it logged in. Profile pictures, sexuality and interests are commonly changed however fraping can include the poking or messaging of strangers from someone else’s Facebook account.
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