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According to Florida case law as of the date of this article, cyberstalking is a form of domestic violence against which a person may obtain an injunction:

“Cyberstalk” means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose. § 784.048(1)(d), Fla. Stat. (2013).
Mrs. Horowitz alleged that she was the victim of cyberstalking based on two posts on Mr. Horowitz’s Facebook page. The first post contained the lyrics to Atlantic Starr’s 1985 single “Secret Lovers.” The second of Mr. Horowitz’s posts contained the text of a private message conversation that Mrs. Horowitz had with a third party via her own Facebook account. Mrs. Horowitz testified that these posts showed Mr. Horowitz either “hacked” her computer or was somehow spying on her because she had recently been listening to “Secret Lovers” on her personal computer in the privacy of her own home and because her private message conversation would have only been observable by accessing her personal Facebook account. She also testified that unbeknownst to her, there was a keylogger program, which would track her computer use, installed on her personal computer and that Mr. Horowitz told her he had someone watching her. She did not present any evidence that Mr. Horowitz actually installed the keylogger.


Mr. Horowitz’s Facebook posts do not meet the statutory definition of cyberstalking for two reasons. First, the posts were not “directed at a specific person.” § 784.048(1)(d). The testimony showed that Mr. Horowitz posted the information to his own Facebook page. Screenshots of the posts admitted into evidence confirm that they were posted to Mr. Horowitz’s page and that Mrs. Horowitz was not “tagged” or mentioned, nor were the posts directed to her in any obvious way. Unlike email communication, which this court considered to be cyberstalking in Rodriguez–Linares, 143 So.3d at 1071, posts to one’s own Facebook page are not directed at a specific person but are instead posted for all of the user’s Facebook “friends” to see, depending on the user’s privacy settings. The testimony adduced at the hearing showed that Mrs. Horowitz was able to view the posts by visiting Mr. Horowitz’s Facebook page because the two were still “friends” on the social networking website. *532 Although Mrs. Horowitz’s assertions that Mr. Horowitz somehow “hacked” into her Facebook account are disconcerting, that behavior alone does not amount to cyberstalking as it is not an electronic communication. See Young v. Young, 96 So.3d 478, 478 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012) (“Ms. Young’s acts in the case at bar, which consisted of changing her husband’s password, appropriating his emails, and including them in a filing in their divorce proceeding, do not amount to cyberstalking, because they were not electronic communications by her of ‘words, images, or language … directed at’ Mr. Young.”). Even considering the posts in the context of Mr. Horowitz’s statements that he had someone watching Mrs. Horowitz, they do not qualify as cyberstalking. See Arnold v. Santana, 122 So.3d 512, 513 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) (reversing injunction where “Appellant sent [Appellee] text messages in which he warned her to change her passwords because he was tracking everything she was doing, and informed her that he was also following her”).


Second, Mrs. Horowitz failed to show that the posts caused her “substantial emotional distress.” § 784.048(1)(d). She testified that the posts were “a matter of concern” to her and that they “prevented [her] from having any privacy within [her] own home.” The record is devoid of any other mention of Mrs. Horowitz’s reaction to the posts. Because her testimony as to her reaction to the posts was “conclusory and vague” it was insufficient to show that she had been a victim of domestic violence. See Alderman v. Thomas, 141 So.3d 668, 670–71 (Fla. 2d DCA 2014) (reversing injunction where petitioner testified “that she feels ‘insecure and unsafe with’ [respondent] and that he scares her”).”

See: Horowitz v. Horowitz – 160 So.3d 530 (2015)




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