That’s what a German Appeals Court has ruled. The original court said she could, and then the case was appealed.
The Appeals Court said her daughter’s privacy rights outweighed her mom’s parental rights, or her guardian rights as the mother of a minor, or her inheritance rights.
There are a lot of places in this story I am having to fill in. If anyone mentioned has proof that I have misstated the facts, I will be glad to take a look at their proof.
Her fifteen-year old daughter died in front of a subway commuter train in 2012. Her mom wanted to look at her daughter’s FB page to see if she said anything about committing suicide or gave any indication of it.
I’m certain in the beginning her mom contacted FB, and asked to see the FB page. FB declined on the basis of her daughter’s privacy rights. Her daughter is dead, and FB is concerned about her privacy rights. She may have committed suicide, and FB is concerned about her privacy rights.
As I try to unscramble this, apparently who this girl had friended could still see her FB page, although it is now frozen to where no additional entries or deletions can be made on it. I don’t imagine the mom ever thought of friending her daughter. She just simply walked in her daughter’s room, and said I want to see your FB page.
And these people who were friended by her daughter? Where are they? If they haven’t been out in the German forest all this time, they know the mom has been trying to look at her daughter’s FB page. Why hasn’t anyone of them stepped forward, and said I can show you her FB page? She had some really great friends, didn’t she?
And what about FB?
The mom sued FB for the wrong reason. She should have known that she at some point would run into a privacy rights roadblock from somewhere.
The mother should have sued FB for allowing a minor, someone of non-legal age, to write something on FB without the approval of her guardian. You may be saying what am I talking about? When a minor child lives with a parent, the parent is legally their guardian. If there are two parents present, they jointly are considered her guardians.
Now that would have shaken FB to its core, especially if the mom had won the case. How many minor children post to FB without their parent’s (guardian’s’) permission? FB would have had a lot of fixing to do.
How the Appeals Court could have totally overlooked three strong points that the mom had, and said the privacy rights of her dead daughter outweighed everything.
Here in the States the dead have no rights at all, privacy or otherwise. If you don’t believe me, try having the body of a person cremated, the dead person specifying they wanted to be cremated. If you take it upon yourself to follow the wishes of the dead, I wish you well in court when other relatives come forward to say they didn’t want the body cremated. I have never heard of anyone being uncremated.
Let’s review and break down those three rights the mom had.
She was the mom of the girl. The person who had raised her for fifteen years. And suddenly the girl’s dead, and the mom can’t find out why. It’s bad enough that the girl is dead, and now the mom has to go through all of this to try and find out why.
Although the guardian rights of parents are seldom mentioned because they are seldom needed, they are still there legally. What the court has done is to say that this dead minor child has been elevated to an adult, and her privacy rights will be treated as if she is an adult. Exactly how stupid is that.
Inheritance rights. I have seen nothing to indicate the girl wrote a last will and testament. A last will and testament does not have to be a formally drawn document. It could have been a simple statement written on a piece of paper that was in the nightstand by her bed. “I give everything I own to_________.” That is sufficient if it carries a date, and is in her handwriting. If there is no last will and testament, then in the States the person dies intestate, which means they left no will.
Although FB owned the FB page, they do not own the content of the FB page. That’s belongs to the person whose FB page it is. That is what is in dispute.
One item of interest to FB I’m sure is whether the girl was bullied until she committed suicide, and if she mentioned that person by name. Then FB may reason that the privacy rights of the person mentioned would be violated, and they would sue FB. If this person can be proven to have bullied the girl until she committed suicide, I don’t think that person or his/her parents would be interested in suing anybody, because I think the mom would be suing them for monetary reasons (really the only recourse she would have). The prosecutor would be glad to seek jail time for the perpetrator, which I say is most fitting.
Although FB cannot backtrack and change the rules and regulations for this case, they should now spell out if a person who has a FB page dies, then the content of that page goes to the closest relative, which in this case would have been the mom. The person whose page it is should be aware that their page could be read in its entirety at a later date, and write accordingly.
Death is most difficult to deal with when there is only death to deal with. When a mom can’t find out in the simplest way what happened to her daughter, that is a double indemnity of miserable consequences raised to its highest level.
FB says they will do everything possible to try and come up with a solution to this. FB, I think you have been responsible for enough difficulty for the mom up to now. Just bow out ungracefully.