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Slimed Online [portfolio.com] by David Margolick, Conde Nast Portfolio
Cyber-bullying has reached a new low—at the highest levels of the professional world. So when anonymous attackers went after two Yale law students, they struck back and filed suit. Their case may help change the rules.
Running a board can be a major pain in the backside, especially when you have to maintain a sense of integrity as a business. People need to learn how to behave in a civil manner (I know, when pigs learn to fly and dance on the clouds with pink elephants).
Community websites often get compared to free speech venues. They should more properly be compared to public rallies. If you hold one, you need to control the crowd. If the crowd decides to burn cars and loot stores, you can't go complaining about free speech - because that's not what it's about. You organized it, you take some ownership of the success and the failure.
I do partly disagree with US law indemnifying the forum owner / web hoster; I think there should be some easy free process to have clear defamations removed. The problem comes when you have some oik in a far away country abusing US web sites to defame others, with them claiming jurisdiction rests in their own country which is devoid of justice through corruption. This then makes the US and its law as corrupt as the defamer’s.
Now, on the other hand, you can say that X site is "freer" than Y site. For example, this site doesn't allow links while others do. But it's not censorship. If you want to put your links somewhere, you can do it in the proper places.
We used to get people coming onto a company's site, slagging it off with lots of swearwords and then saying company x had far better products and you should buy those instead. Why would any company allow that on a website that's predominantly aimed at promoting their own products?
Why would any company allow that on a website that's predominantly aimed at promoting their own products?
The company has indeed every right to delete the posts they do not deem appropriate, but if they manage their forum like if it was a commercial, don't expect it to get any credibility from discerning consumers who will most likely jump to a more impartial forum and tell everyone how the company's forum is just for shills.
Point in case. I shut down a large number of sites that were scrapping content, descriptions, with domain names and doing using affiliate sites CM to 302 to pages that they would get a comission on if a sell was made. Being the domain name was copyrighted I was able to get the affiliate site to shut off their accounts. The affiliate site used us as the reason in an email to the account they said (X site has filed a complaint against etc and your account has been cancelled) and not their activity violated company policy. This led to a huge attack on us some of them posted lies to rip off that continue to show up to this day if the domain is entered in a search.
I asked for the post to be removed and could prove the statements were false but they say anthing posted stays. I filed rebuttals to the post but if you view the pages the rebuttals are in the bottom of the page were the complaint is in the fold.
I can see this will one day lead to a big suit on them and the posters as it is just to easy to file false statements and lies and harm good business. What is intended to be a good helpful site is then used as a way to slander and file false statements.
Free speech is good and I believe in it but were is a line drawn to free speech and free abuse is the question.
We also have a zero tolerance if folks go over the line with comments. Their account will be banned instantly, no warning.
We don't waste our moderator's time dealing with problem users that join just to get under people's skin. They always cry freedom of speech, and we simply tell them if they don't follow the site rules, their account will be terminated. End of story.
If you read the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it reads, in part "Congress shall make no law..."
The First Amendment is putting a restriction on government not to restrict speech, there is no such restriction on a private business or an individual, for example, operating a forum.
Further, even within the confines of the First Amendment which prohibits government from restricting speech, the Amendment does not grant those who are speaking the right to be heard.
While those are usually pretty hard to prove or get anywhere with in court, they have been used on occasion.
I am pretty sure that things like threats also fall outside of any free speech interpretations by the courts.
Some of the posts in this thread suggest that the site is at fault. These girls aren't going after the site. They are going after the posters, and are asking the site to help i.d. the posters.
In my eyes the site isn't doing anything wrong.
[edited by: Demaestro at 11:46 pm (utc) on Feb. 18, 2009]
I would be sympathetic to the forum if the threads were in some way, even an inflammatory one, attacking some principle or a moral wrong or wrongdoing of some kind, but calling for someone to be raped as a "joke" is not defensible on any grounds.
The site owner said, "Looking back, I was naive and a weak leader.” But in fact he was just greedy. He didn't want to lose his AdSense income. People came to read the troll threads, and he knew it. He was making money off it. He said himself that what attracted people to the site was anything goes. At the end of the article he said that he would have pulled the threads if he had been asked more nicely. It is clear from that remark that he kept the threads going not only because of the money but because he enjoyed them. He is himself a bully.
I am glad these trolls were outed. I have heard trolls putting forward this freedom of speech argument ever since Usenet. Over the years it has become less and less convincing. Having the right to do something doesn't mean you should go ahead and do it.
When your taxes are made payable to Dave Bailey, only then can you complain that I am infringing on your frreedom of speech.