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Someone's Blasting a School District Online. Now, an Unmasking?

Neb.'s Friend Public Schools wants to know who's running the criticism-filled Friend Bulldog account
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 5, 2019 6:00 AM CST
Updated Feb 5, 2019 6:41 AM CST
In this Feb. 8, 2018, file photo, the logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

(Newser) – A southeast Nebraska school district wants a court to help it learn who's behind a Twitter account that has targeted the district and superintendent. Friend Public Schools says the unknown person behind the Friend Bulldog account has made false, libelous, and defamatory statements accusing Superintendent David Kraus or the district of public indecency and other offenses. The account has been active since last fall, per the AP. In a Jan. 7 post, Kraus' face was positioned over actor Jim Carrey's in a poster for Carrey's movie Liar Liar; another post from September of last year compared Kraus to Adolf Hitler. The district's attorney, Justin Knight, also said in the lawsuit filed last week that the Twitter account might be mistaken for the district's official one because it uses a picture of the Friend Bulldog mascot.

"The goal is to clear the reputations of the individuals that have been targeted in the account," Knight says. District officials made other efforts to contact the online critic and resolve the issue—including an open invitation from the school board—but those weren't successful. Knight says the district didn't decide to file the suit until after several other district employees were singled out. The Lincoln Journal Star reported on the lawsuit first. On Saturday, the person behind the Twitter account posted, "The name's Doe, John Doe." The individual, who later added, "I can't believe you guys guessed my real name!," didn't respond to a Twitter message the AP sent Monday seeking comment. A Twitter rep said she was looking into the case. The company says it tries to notify users about a legal request for user info, then reviews the request before deciding whether to comply. (Read more Nebraska stories.)

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