Ireland's first case establishing so-called Facebook rape, or “frape”, as a crime has taken place in Dublin's central criminal court.
The act involves posting updates from someone else's account without their permission.
The case involved a man using a woman's mobile phone to access her Facebook account, publishing sexually offensive status updates from it.
A report in the FT said that the 30-year-old culprit committed the act on 6 April 2011, when he took his ex-girlfriend's phone following an argument about a perceived infidelity.
After reading text messages that confirmed she was in a new relationship, he posted a Facebook status update from her account, making it appear as though she was describing herself as a “whore” who would take “any offers”.
The judge in the case said the “reprehensible offence seriously damaged woman’s good name”, according to The Irish Independent. But he noted that there was no established procedure to guide him on how to sentence such an offence.
The recent rise of social media means that courts are not used to dealing with cases like this, and around the world they are facing the challenge of adapting old laws to punish new crimes.
In this instance, they used the Criminal Damage Act of 1991: a law that has previously been used to settle disputes about physical damage to property. The man was fined €2,000 for the incident, but the act carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison and a €10,000 fine.