Teen Who Used Facebook Images To Rank Looks Of Female Classmates, Arrested For 'Disorderly Conduct'

from the facemash? dept

For anyone who’s seen The Social Network or is familiar with the history and lore of Facebook, you know that prior to starting Facebook, Zuckerberg got in a bit of trouble for creating “Facemash,” which took photos of students from various online “facebooks” around Harvard, put two of them together, and let people vote on who was hotter. So it’s interesting to hear that a teenager in suburban Chicago has been arrested for using Facebook to do something similar with is own classmates:

A teenager who allegedly ranked females in a list on Facebook by their physical appearance has been arrested, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.

The 17-year-old, whose name isn’t being released because he’s a minor, is a former student of Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Ill., and the girls he is accused of ranking in the list include former classmates, the Tribune said.

Oak Park Police believe he not only created the “offensive list” but also was responsible for circulating it online, the report said. The teen was arrested Monday at home and is being charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, the Tribune said.

While I agree that this may have been a real jerk move by the kid, it’s hard to see how this should be an arrestable offense. Disorderly conduct seems like a ridiculous charge here. How is being a jerk online “disorderly conduct”?

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Comments on “Teen Who Used Facebook Images To Rank Looks Of Female Classmates, Arrested For 'Disorderly Conduct'”

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william (profile) says:

what is the definition for disorderly conduct anyways.

I am starting to feel that this is some kind of loophole that the police can use to temporarily arrest anyone they don’t approve. If they don’t like you walking around the the street, they’ll bust you with disorderly conduct, then let you go without a charge later after it hit the maximum holding time without a charge.

I mean, after all, walking in a zig-zag way on a side walk can be viewed as a disorderly conduct…

Anonymous Coward says:

What a fine use of public resources

Now that all of Chicago’s unsolved murders have been dealt with, gang violence completely eliminated, rapes and assault entirely quashed, it’s a fine idea for police officers to make up nonsensical charges against a minor and spend taxpayer resources prosecuting those.

Oh, I’m sorry…I forgot. Chicago cops are paid by the mob and the dealers and the gangs, no taxpayer funds were used. Never mind.

Nathan F (profile) says:

So I guess the owner/operators of all those Hot or Not websites should be arrested also? The only remote difference I could see would be that the girls this boy was sorting are potentially minors, but even then if he got the images off their facebook pages that were publicly available *shrug*.

First blush sounds like a very bad case of overreaction.

AnonX says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The photos could have limited rights. Copyright always stays with the creator of the content. Registration of copyright is needed for legal reward, but copyright could potentially be used…

Any of the girls could claim copyright over their photos, but Facebook asks for the rights in their terms of service before posting. Alternative uses could be copyright infringement. Facebook’s right to use does not protect it against the outside use by others. There is no means of giving up a copyright and even Creative Commons has been argued as ineffective by some companies in court.

A photo is not speech and could definitely be claimed as a digital good. The content of the boys commentary protects him. Facebook contributed to improper use of the digital good so any alternative infringing use could put Facebook at risk for Third-Party linking and contribution to infringement…

Doug B (profile) says:

Re: Re: D.C.

Maybe go read the original, linked article?

The list ranked 50 female students and in describing them, rated their body parts and used racial slurs. The teen also is being accused of printing out the list and passing it around during lunch periods at the high school on Jan. 14 , the Tribune reported.”

Bolding is mine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: DIY without Lawyers = Jail Time

You forgot to mention the requirements to contribute to the PBA, buying tickets to the Policemens’ Ball, and sending the requisite fat envelopes on a timely basis. Of course, being a high-ranking member of society generally confers the financial benefits necessary to do this.

Rob Adams says:

What is Disorderly Conduct?

720 ILCS 5/26‑1 lists 13 definitions of “disorderly conduct.” 12 of them are fairly objective, and don’t apply to this situation. The remaining charge is completely subjective, and is the only one that might possibly apply:

A person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly: … Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace

I’m not a lawyer, but I can read English. The minor must have either alarmed or disturbed someone, and he must also have provoked a breach of the peace.

Aside from being an incredibly broad standard, I just don’t see how this applies to the facts as we know them. I’m sure he alarmed someone, but how did he provoke a breach of the peace? Did someone take a swing at him over this?

Remind me to fight any disorderly conduct charge I ever recieve.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: What is Disorderly Conduct?

You are assuming that “Breach of peace” means to physically confrontation. If he did it in the school cafeteria as stated, and even a moderately loud arguement, or verbal fight could be considered to meet the breach of peace portion.

I cannot imagine that if a teenage girl who was on that list was present she didn’t make some obnoxious scene by throwing some kind of fit.

If it wasn’t easily gotten under control then that is all it would take.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: What is Disorderly Conduct?

I cannot imagine that if a teenage girl who was on that list was present she didn’t make some obnoxious scene by throwing some kind of fit.

Fortunately, criminal charges aren’t based on what some unconnected person can or cannot imagine, but (in theory) on what actually happened. Did someone breach the peace over this list, and did the creator provoke that breach? The article doesn’t say.

RobShaver (profile) says:

Re: The rule of law is dead

Ignorance of the law is no excuse and there’s always some law they can charge you with at any time, even sleeping in your bed.

Police have lots of discretion in enforcing the law. If the officer is reasonable then the law seems reasonable. If the officer is having a bad day then some citizen is going to have a bad day.

Michial Thompson (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Racial slurs by themselves may not be illegal, but if used in certain crimes they can actually increase the charges by changing them to Hate Crimes.

For instance, if racial slurs were used during an assault, it could be made a Hate Crime. Usually the Hate Crime card isn’t played unless it’s a violent crime, not all of the crimes are violent that can be escallated as Hate Crimes.

Jason (profile) says:

I love misapplied law!!

The law was originally based on disturbing the peace laws, and both are solely based in the PUBLIC SPACE. Facebook is a public web application but it’s not like the schoolyard. It’s more like a clubhouse where certain members are allowed to join and express opinions that other people might not like. I wonder if they would arrest the KKK simply for meeting together and expressing racist / bigot opinions on the same charge – so I view facebook as a special club you must be accepted into before you get the goods. I guess I see both sides and it would be a great debate topic, assuming each side can stick to facts.

However I think this is over the top and any good lawyer should be able to prove the charge was misapplied. Otherwise the gov’t needs to prove facebook is a public place.

Huph (user link) says:

Re: I love misapplied law!!

He wasn’t arrested for Disorderly Conduct because of posting to FB, he was arrested for distributing to the cafeteria (public place in a public school) the list and rankings of specific females, along with rankings of their anatomy, accompanied with racial slurs. If distributing such a list engendered even just one response or threat of violence from one of the girls, or her boyfriend, then in most jurisdictions the school is required to turn the matter over to the police.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re: I love misapplied law!!

> If distributing such a list engendered even just one response
> or threat of violence from one of the girls, or her boyfriend,
> then in most jurisdictions the school is required to turn the
> matter over to the police.

That’s what is known in 1st Amendment circles as a “heckler’s veto” and has been disallowed as a restriction on speech by the Supreme Court for decades.

Jason (profile) says:

Re: Re: I love misapplied law!!

yes, but I see how my post is confusing as I did not fully read the links and get the whole story. But if he were arrested per my sceario, and charged with disorderly conduct the gov’t would need to prove FB is a public space, which we all know it is not. Disorderly is a charge based on being a jerk in public beyond your normal 1st ammendment rights to be a jerk.

Jay says:

Facebook Liability

According the the laws being proposed. Maybe the police should charge Facebook for distrubing the peace? The kid was copying the photos, but seems to have a fair use out for commentary in this. However Facebook could have Third-Party liability for allowing the copying of the photos. Facebook is a nuicence that must be made to pay for thier photo linking and copying capabilities.

btr1701 (profile) says:


I have no idea why the cops/D.A. think this is going to withstand any kind of 1st Amendment scrutiny.

And from a practical perspective, when this call first came in to the station (from outraged parent of one of the girls, one presumes), I can’t imagine why they even took it seriously. This would have been my reaction:

PARENT: Some miscreant posted a list of the hottest girls in school on his Facebook page!

ME: Okay… so?

PARENT: Well, it’s an outrage! He said my daughter has a nice butt, for god’s sake!

ME: Seriously? This is why you’re calling the police?

PARENT: Damn it, something must be done!

ME: Well, that may be true, but it’s not something on which we’re going to waste police resources. Have a nice day.

Paul B Smith (user link) says:

17 Year Old Boy Arrested For Rating Girls On Appearance


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