Bebo party story is fake--lawsuit is not

The mother of a teenage girl who told of a wild party on her Bebo account says she is suing six papers that ran the story as fact.

Don't believe everything you read on Bebo.

That's the message an angry mother is sending by suing six U.K. newspapers that lifted a story off social-networking site Bebo about her daughter's supposed wild party.

The Bebo invite promised the "party of the year," for the teenager's 16th birthday. Subsequent posts on Jodie Hudson's Bebo account spoke of underage drinking, sex acts, and violence that occurred at the celebration.

Several newspapers ran the story, along with pictures lifted from Jodie Hudson's Bebo account, alleging that 400 partying teens responded to the Bebo and Facebook invites and chaos ensued. Some even said that Jodie's mother had punched her in the face out of anger.

But the story isn't true, according to mother Amanda Hudson, and she's suing for defamation and breach of privacy. According to U.K. newspaper The Independent, she also claims that she has received abusive phone calls regarding the party and her daughter has suffered from the "privacy breach."

In a letter to the newspapers, she explained that there was no underage drinking, no sex, no violence, and no stealing--all parts of the story her daughter told on the Web. She also said that the family hired private security to maintain the bash, and police were never called to the family's $8 million Spanish villa on May 3.

Lawyers told the paper that the case may be a legal landmark because there is no precedent in disputes involving third parties who use or publish information from social-networking sites. Hudson's lawyer, David Price, noted that the case raised important issues of libel, privacy, and copyright and added that, due to social-networking sites, teenager's embellished rumors are now on display like never before.

The new development also raises questions about why the daughter and fellow Bebo friends would tell the fictional tale and whether the reporters validated the information they found on the site. Hudson claimed they did not contact her daughter for permission. However, the information was publicly posted online, and similar situations have led to law enforcement shutting down parties after discovering them online.

The story has since been removed from the UK TimesOnline, although it remains on Sky News, Daily Mail Online, and The Register.

 

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