Facebook tribute group runs afoul of publication ban

A Facebook page started in early January to host tribute to a murdered child flouted a publication ban. A day after the page was mentioned in a Toronto Star report, the court lifted the ban.

According to the Star, visitors to the page posted messages and pictures and even discussed theories of how the boy was killed. But the court-ordered publication ban was supposed to prevent public identification of either the victim or the accused. 

Paul Burstein, president of the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, commented to the Star: “I highly doubt most of the people blogging or on Facebook have any idea there’s a publication ban. So what is the law to do? Punish them, maybe severely or just at all, without them having notice that their conduct may be against the law?”

The Facebook tribute group is now private and accessible only by invitation.
The case raises questions about the type of content that can be posted on social networking sites. The Star report continues: “Facebook, like other social networking sites, is in a legal grey zone, Burstein said. A tribute page can’t be treated the same way as a major news outlet, yet it also can’t be treated like a private conversation between friends.”