Andrew J. MacDonald received a two-year prison sentence for biting off parts of a rival’s ears following an argument that transpired over Facebook during November 2009 in a suburb of Boston.
Apparently the two sent angry messages to each other on Facebook, then resumed fighting later in the evening — they started arguing verbally and then began throwing punches at each other. MacDonald grabbed the victim in a bear hug and bit both of his ears, and spit the pieces on the pavement.
A friend of the victim picked up the pieces — the top of the right ear and part of the left earlobe — and rushed the injured party to the hospital.
MacDonald, now 20 years old, admitted to law enforcement officials that he indeed bit the victim’s ears and spit the pieces on the pavement. The sentence he received includes undergoing mental health treatment and writing a letter of apology.
Obviously, Facebook had a minimal role in this conflict that escalated offline. Nonetheless, the near ubiquity of the site unfortunately has a flip side: some of the bad things that happen everywhere have some overlap onto the social network. Hopefully most people can recognize where the liability rests without exaggerating things.
Readers, can you think of any way that the social network could keep such incidents from having even the tiniest overlap with the site or are these things inevitable?