Man forced to apologize to wife via Facebook

(Photo: WLWT/CNN)
(Photo: WLWT/CNN)

CINCINNATI (WLWT/CNN) – An Ohio judge ordered a man to friend his estranged wife on his Facebook page.

The ruling passed down to Mark Byron is the result of a post he wrote last year. The judge ruled Byron violated a protection order and said he could avoid jail time by posting an apology every day for 30 days.

The judge ruled that during the 30 days, Byron had to grant friend status to his wife or someone of her choosing to monitor the page. He faces a jail sentence of 60 days if he fails to comply.

Byron said he wrote the post out of frustration over his upcoming divorce and child visitation rights.

"I just went on Facebook to vent," Byron said. "I liken it to having a drink in a bar with a friend and telling them how I feel. It's just that on Facebook you do it on a much larger scale, and people that are interested in talking to me about it can say something. And those who are not interested ignore it."

His soon-to-be ex-wife, Elizabeth, chose not to ignore it.

Even though Byron said his wife was blocked from his Facebook page, she saw the post and read comments from friends.

Jill Meyer of the Frost Brown Todd Law Firm said the case raises freedom of speech concerns.

"What the courts have said is that the notion of preventing somebody from speaking or compelling somebody to speak raises the same constitutional First Amendment issues," Meyer said.

The case is due back in court March 19.

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