Facebook may face prosecution in Italian teen’s suicide

The unfortunate trend of teenage girls succumbing to online bullying has now also taken over Italy.

Like many teenage girls worldwide, Carolina Picchio had her photos on Facebook and often shared status updates on the social media site.

Last winter, someone posted a video on Facebook in which the 14-year-old girl appeared drunk and disoriented at a party. Once the video when viral among her classmates, the torment began.

Picchio’s ex-boyfriend and his friends posted a barrage of abusive messages aimed at Carolina. At first it was online but it later spilled into her school life and among other teens in the northern Italian town of Novara.

When the bullying became too much for the young girl to handle, Picchio jumped from her bedroom window, landing headfirst.

Picchio left a heartbreaking suicide note.

“Are you happy now?” she wrote. “Have you hurt me enough? Have you had enough revenge?”

Members of Picchio’s family claim they reported the abusive messages from Carolina’s peers to Facebook in hopes of having the messages removed. According to the Picchio family and some of Carolina’s friends, Facebook did nothing.

“He was insulting her, mistreating her,” Carolina’s sister Talita told CNN. “We naturally spoke about it with her but she told us not to worry.”

According to CNN, Francesco Saluzzo, the Novara prosecutor, is looking into the possibility of filing a criminal complaint against Facebook for failing to remove offensive content. “In the case of Carolina, it appears some of her friends, some of her relatives, asked for the removal of some of this strong content, and it wasn’t removed – and this played a role in her decision to commit suicide.”

The prosecutor’s documents show that Carolina received 2,600 abusive messages via WhatsApp, a messaging service for smartphones.

Facebook released a statement to CNN addressing the issue.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Carolina Picchio and our hearts go out to her family and friends. Harassment has no place on Facebook and we actively encourage teens and parents to report incidences of bullying using the links located throughout the site. We remove content reported to us that violates of Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and we escalate reports of harassment and bullying to law enforcement where appropriate.”

Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant


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