A local man’s wife left him, which he apparently took badly, as he began posting vicious attacks against her on Facebook. Despite the kindly advice of friends to cool it, the man continued to show that hell hath no fury, as Congreve might have said, like a Facebook friend scorned.
The estranged wife filed a complaint with the justice of the peace, who sits in every municipality to deal with minor civil disputes. The wife lodged a complaint based on Article 223 of the civil code, which permits a justice of the peace to intervene in such matters when the divorcing parties have not (yet) registered an official divorce procedure. Such disputes usually concern living arrangements, child support or property issues. This is thought to be the first time a case has been about boorish behaviour online.
The justice ordered both parties to refrain from “defamatory or insulting comments about each other and the children on public forums such as social media” and set a penalty of €100 per infringement if the instruction was not followed.
Facebook operates a set of “community standards” that forbids, among other things, harassment. “We allow users to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but take action on all reports of abusive behaviour directed at private individuals,” reads its policy. “Repeatedly targeting other users with unwanted friend requests or messages is a form of harassment.”