Racist Facebook Post Raises Questions About Cyber-Bullying Laws

By Holly Sweat

Georgia law is a little outdated when it comes to cyberbullying. At least that’s what University of Georgia Police Chief Jimmy Williamson told me. He says today the law focuses on minors in school instead of bullying that happens over the internet.

Terrance Rhodes and Brittany Arnold are upset about racist comments posted to the Black Affairs Council Facebook page. Many BAC members believe the harsh words do constitute as a crime.

“The post itself just makes me realize just how much a minority I am at this University,” Rhodes told Newsource. “If anything it was inappropriate. Cyberbullying? Yes. You wouldn’t say it in person.”

“When I saw the comment on the Facebook, I was really personally hurt,” Arnold said. “I just think it’s cyberbullying because it was openly written on our Facebook.”

But UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson says that under the current bullying laws in Georgia, they are NOT victims of cyber-bullying.

“These words are protected under the first amendment. These words were put in a public domain. In a situation like this there is very little the police can do about it. Cyberbullying laws in Georgia are not complete enough. We would look at harassment and other things, but for any criminal act to occur there has to be one specific victim,” Chief Williamson explained.

Not everyone agrees with the current laws in place for cyberbullying – or lack thereof. BAC President Caroline Bailey believes all BAC members have been cyberbullied from the post.

“It’s cyberbullying more so.” she said. “You’ve targetted the six percent of African Americans at the University of Georgia!”

The person whose name is on the Facebook behind the racist comments claims he is NOT the person who did it. According to Chief Williamson, it could be Matthew Williams who might have a cyber-bullying case.

“If he wanted us to investigate we would investigate and try to find the people who were responsible and hold them accountable. We would also offer assistance getting these things expedited and removed,” Chief Willaimson explained.

But there will be no case here. Roberts told Newsource today he doesn’t want to file a report because he has not been a victim of cyberbullying but wouldn’t comment further.

Facebook does have policies against bullying and does not permit users to attack others based on their race or ethnicity. The comment on BAC’s Facebook has been removed.

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