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Court-ordered Facebook apology raises eyebrows

Over the past few months, we've noted that Facebook has been playing an increasing role in evidence in divorce and child custody cases in Colorado and all over the country. A situation in another state is making headlines because of it its unusual outcome: A man was ordered to apologize to his ex-wife for 30 days - on Facebook - for a rant he had posted on the social networking site.

The man and his wife had a son in 2010, but their marriage fell apart soon after. The woman said her husband verbally abused her and threatened her. He was ultimately ordered to stay away from his wife via a civil protective order, and he felt that he was deprived of being able to see his son.

According to a USA Today article, this is what he wrote on Facebook: "...if you are an evil, vindictive woman who wants to ruin your husband's life and take your son's father away from him completely - all you need to do is say you're scared of your husband or domestic partner..."

His wife found out about the post and reported it. A domestic relations magistrate found the man in contempt. He was ordered to spend 60 days in jail or to post an apology to his wife on Facebook every day for 30 days.

The order has sparked concerns about free speech issues. The man says he didn't feel like he had any other choice but to post the apology. A free speech expert says that the "do it or go to jail" order is troubling. He notes that the order to compel speech is similar to suppressing free speech.

What do you think?

Source: USA Today, "Ex-husband gets choice of jail or a Facebook apology," Kimball Perry, Feb. 23, 2012

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