Mother takes Twitter to court over ID of daughter's bully

October 18, 2013 (ELMWOOD PARK, Ill.)

That mother wants names and IP addresses of the person or people posting under anonymous twitter accounts. And her court filing comes on the heels of a high-profile criminal case in Florida involving alleged cyber-bullying.

Just the usernames of the two twitter accounts are meant to be hurtful. @dreadfullyLARGE and @dreadfulFATchic. Both pages are now suspended by Twitter.

In court papers plaintiff Rose Martorana-Lollino of Elmwood Park claims her daughter's name and picture were used in the profile.

Among the offensive tweets: "My passion is being fat," and "I only take baths when I can't stand my own smell."

Several tweets are sexual in nature and too graphic to mention.

"I think what's happening is that people are discovering new ways to misbehave in the new media," said Prof. Henry Perritt Jr., ITT Chicago Kent College of Law.

Perritt says this isn't the first time someone has gone to court to force a social media site like twitter to turn over user information, but usually the cases involve a jilted spouse seeking proof of infidelity in a divorce.

Perritt says he expects Twitter to argue their hands are tied by privacy agreements contained in its terms of service.

"If they disclose the identities, and they don't have permission in the contract with the users, there are criminal penalties imposed on them under the Stored Communications Act, the federal statute," he said.

The court filing comes on the heels of the suicide of Florida 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, the result of alleged cyber-bullying by a 14-year-old and 12-year-old, who are now charged with felony aggravated stalking.

Police say the cyber-bullying may have erupted out of jealousy over the attention of a boy, John Borgen.

"I think about her almost every day," Borgen said. "I could have stopped it."

William Kling helped write Illinois' first anti-bullying law and says he expects more parents to seek criminal or civil action against cyber-bullies.

"It might be a watershed moment, a tipping point moment," he said. "I think that people are looking for ways of getting some answers."

That mother from Elmwood Park who filed those court papers seeking that user information declined to comment Friday. As did Twitter. The next legal step would be a hearing before a judge, likely in Cook County.

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