Man must apologize on Facebook for 30 days after posting about his divorce

Published: Feb. 23, 2012 at 1:38 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 24, 2012 at 12:38 PM EDT
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HAMILTON COUNTY, OH (WBTV/FOX19) - An Ohio judge ordered a man to post a public apology repeatedly, or serve jail time after a post he made about his divorce on his own Facebook page.

Mark Byron says he was furious about a pending divorce when he posted comments about his estranged wife on his own Facebook page in November of last year.

He has a "temporary protection order" against him and a magistrate decided that his post violated the order. A "temporary protection order" says a person can't physically or mentally abuse the other person and they can't harass, embarrass or annoy that person.

His estranged wife saw the post and said it was embarrassing; he says it's just the facts.

"My attorney and I were blown away when we heard that because of what I had posted on Facebook that she had filed for Contempt of Court against me citing that this had embarrassed her," he said. "The things that I posted on Facebook were fact-based and they weren't defamatory and it's clear that I was just trying to vent to my friends on Facebook."

And he says his estranged wife had to go out of her way to find his posting.

"I have her blocked (on Facebook) which means that she can't even see me if she searches for me, she can't see me at all. I wasn't even thinking of her at the time. It was just about me and my son and letting people know how difficult it has been for me this past year not having decent custody rights to see my son."

The magistrate didn't see it that way.

He made Byron post an apology, because he ruled it violated the protection order. Byron was told he could serve 60 days in jail, or post the apology.

He decided to post the 228-word apology that the magistrate wrote, but says the punishment is ridiculous and a violation of his First Amendment rights of Free Speech.

"To rule now that I must post something on my Facebook wall now for 30 days, everyday for 30 days before 9 am, it's the most outlandish thing I've ever heard," Byron said. "And I think that a lot of people feel that way."

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