Is it libel, or is it lulz?
October 6, 2009 8:30 AM Subscribe
Can you point me to some legal cases of "internet libel"?
posted by anonymous to law & government (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Backstory: A while back, I wrote an article for a mainstream US newsmagazine website.
As could be expected, the article was open for comments, and a lot of the comments left were less than flattering. This didn't surprise me, as I've seen writer friends go through the same thing, and since most online major media outlets don't have much, if any, comment moderation. Roughly 90% of the comments were openly hostile, not just to my article or my opinion, but to me personally. Many of them contained actual, straight-up lies about myself and my credentials, and called for my dismissal from my day job.
I don't intend to pursue a suit, but this experience has made me consider the issue of libel more closely than I've yet had to.
It occurred to me that the comments would not only never be published in a "Letters to the Editor" section, but some might actually be considered defamatory if aired in other public forums. Should I ever wish to use this article on my resume or CV, it could be embarrassing, and potentially damaging, for employers to read the (untrue) comments about me.
It seems like libelous speech is tolerated to a surprising extent on the internet, not least of all because the people in question are anonymous or pseudonymous, and it would take a little bit of effort to track them down.
I am pretty resigned to what I experienced, as it's now water under the bridge and things have settled down -- so I'm not really asking for personal advice on my experience (though if you have some, you're welcome to toss it in.)
What I'm interested in is learning more about the hypotheticals and theoreticals of internet libel.
I really value AskMe for the quality of answers and the intelligence of the posters. I would love to get some links to, or stories of, past cases involving libel over the internet, or for Mefite legal brains to pontificate on why/why not "internet libel" is a legit issue, what the legal consequences could be, and how/if they could apply to a situation like the one described.
Thanks in advance, you all.
Also, I'm feeling a bit low today, so please be kind.