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Under pressure from state attorneys general, the community news site Topix has stopped charging users a $19.99 fee to prioritize their requests to review allegedly abusive posts.
In a joint statement with 35 attorneys general, the Palo Alto, Calif-based company also said it will aim to examine and delete any such posts within three working days. The attorneys general did not allege that Topix's priority fee was illegal.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said at the time that an initial investigation showed that the "forums and polls" section of the site "is routinely used to post abusive or vulgar information, often about children, in blatant violation of Topix's terms of service."
freedom of speech, that's all good. but what about personal rights? right to one's own picture, legal defense options in case of being slaughtered by a hate mob?
Libel tourism came to international prominence in 2005, when Saudi billionaire Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz sued New York-based author Rachel Ehrenfeld in a British Court over her book Funding Evil. Even though the book was not published in the U.K., 23 copies purchased via the Internet provided Mahfouz with enough grounds to sue Ehrenfeld in England, where libel judgments are easier to obtain. Ehrenfeld refused to participate in the proceedings, was ordered to pay £10,000 and legal costs. In response, New York and five other states passed their own libel tourism laws.
In 2007, Mahfouz forced Cambridge University Press (CUP) to rescind publication of J. Millard Burr and Robert O. Collinsís Alms for Jihad, in the face of another controversial libel suit in a British Court. In a move that garnered significant media coverage worldwide, CUP was forced to pulp copies of the book, put the book out of print, ask libraries to pull the book from the shelves, pay damages, and in an extraordinary move, issue a public apology on its web site.
Their philosophy was, more or less, "If someone calls you a pathetic moron and likely spouse abuser, we won't remove the post but we will give you free rein to defend yourself and insult your attackers in return."