|Obligation to members regarding law enforcement|
Someone's been impersonating a "celebrity" on my board
It's been going on for 2.5 years, and they're wanting to get the police involved. This is a private board - do I have to allow them in. If I do allow them in, would they be happy just reading the messages from the fake?
Ugh, what a mess. I don't even know why anyone was impersonating this person. Until a few weeks ago, she wasn't even B-movie famous. Just married to someone famous, in another country. But the impersonation started years before s/he knew there would be any publicity.
Follow them to the letter, and comply with any subpeona or court order.
I would certainly ban this person from further posting, and possibly remove their posts from public view (while preserving the data), assuming that your terms of service permit this action.
Who are the "they" who want to get the police involved? The celebrity's representatives or the other board members? If the former, it's hard to see how this could possibly be the real person embellishing things. If the latter, what would the charge be, if the poster hasn't harmed or defrauded anyone? Banning an imposter from the board would be one thing; calling in the police would be an entirely different matter.
[edited by: Beagle at 2:15 pm (utc) on Oct. 15, 2006]
OK, now I am confused.
How did the celebrity find out that somebody was posting as them on your private board?
Did somebody who is a member contact the celebrity outside of the board, thinking they had been communicating with the real deal all along?
It sounds to me like this should not be a big problem, and you should be able to smooth it over. I think a few more details (obviously, without names) would help, though.
"Do I have to allow them in?"
Well, if you knowingly allow someone to damage someone else's reputation without providing the victim a sense of what has happened and a means for them to set the record straight, then that might make you and your site a target for legal action.
Free speech is great. Slander sucks.
It seems quite odd that a tiny, private forum would come to the attention of a celebrity. Very strange situation, but immediate removal (and preservation) of the offending material would no doubt be a good first step.
Whoops, forgot to come back and address this - it got extra complicated. The why & how are kind of a long story. The possibility of law enforcement being involved is no longer a possibility.
And yes, it was a tiny private board, but it didn't come to the attention of the "celebrity", the "celebrity" helped facilitate the start of the board.
It's a weird story, and for the foreseeable future, there won't be any answers that make any sense. I can't give any details in public, because I don't want them to be public information.