Facebook employees could be investigated over suicide of Italian teen

27 May 2013

An Italian prosecutor has said he will not rule out investigating Facebook staff connected to the suicide of Carolina Picchio, a 14-year-old girl from Novara, northern Italy, who was bullied on the social network.

Picchio leapt from a third-floor window in January after a video of her in a drunken state at a party was circulated online.

The Telegraph reports that a group of eight boys aged between 15 and 17, including Picchio’s ex-boyfriend, are being questioned by Italian magistrates with regard to the distribution of the video on Facebook, which apparently tormented Picchio.

The Italian Parent’s Association has reportedly filed a criminal complaint against Facebook for the role it played in Picchio’s decision to end her life. One key question being asked is how the video remained online even after friends of Picchio had requested it be taken down, and prosecutor Francesco Saluzzo told The Daily Telegraph that Facebook employees who failed to act in response to these removal requests could be investigated.

Tackling bullying on social media

Picchio’s death is just one among many whose suicides have been connected to online bullying. A survey by DIT and Kids Online claims that 25pc of Irish school-goers have experienced cyberbullying and Facebook has attempted to explain how it tackles bullying on the social network using social reporting and user education.

While other social networks, such as Ask.fm, have been linked to the suicides of Irish teenagers, Facebook is most likely to be connected to cyberbullying in the Irish media. Recently, the Government sought to plug gaps in legislation around online bullying.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.