Help with Internet slander
March 18, 2011 8:39 AM   Subscribe

I have a friend who is being defamed on a couple web sites. They used her full name in some wordpress comments that did not require any authentication. All attempts to contact the webmaster have failed. All attempts to find an address to send correspondence to fail. I've read this and this. I do have the name of the company the domain is registered through by checking the Whois data. That is the only thing listed in the Whois. Other than the reputation builder stuff of trying to flood the internet with good things, what are some alternatives? Cease & desist to registrar? Hire a hacker to remove the comments? Anything outside the box? The person in question is in fact a lawyer. . .so any legal actions can be taken for cheap . . .
posted by patrad to Technology (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
So it's a commenter who is doing this and not the site owner?
posted by theichibun at 8:51 AM on March 18, 2011

Response by poster: Yes correct a commenter.
posted by patrad at 9:01 AM on March 18, 2011

Your lawyer friend wants to know how AskMe thinks she should handle a defamation issue? Strange times.

Are the statements provably false? A letter from a fellow threatening legal action would seem to be an easy next step.

patrad: "Hire a hacker to remove the comments?"

This is the worst idea imaginable. Get this idea out of your head, no good will come of it.
posted by mkultra at 9:15 AM on March 18, 2011

Response by poster: It's more a question about where she can target legal action when the only verifiable contact we have is the domain registrar.
posted by patrad at 9:26 AM on March 18, 2011

WhoIsHostingThis will point you to the ISP hosting the site, which is who you want, not the registrar.
posted by mkultra at 9:38 AM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

Are you sure that this is defamation, and not the case of two different people having similar names? It's difficult for me to tell how someone would defame someone else in a wordpress comment while also pretending to be them.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:59 AM on March 18, 2011

Response by poster: It is. They are referencing her full legal name, actual location and profession.
posted by patrad at 10:19 AM on March 18, 2011

One way to unmask anonymous internet commenters is called a "John Doe" suit.

Basically, you sue the "person" based on some description. Makes service of process difficult, but enables subpoenas to determine the defendant's true identity.

It seems like your lawyer friend should talk to a lawyer.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:25 AM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You may be walking into a world of hurt on this one. Sometimes it's just best to ignore these things. There's an asshat that stalks a handful of lawyers I know. This deranged individual got it into his head that I was a lawyer as well (I don't even play one on the internet). He created twitter accounts to follow mine. Said things about me on his blog. He had Wordpress blogs, Scribd accounts, ect. Every time one of these sites would get shut down this guy came back meaner and crazier. I was barely involved, but trying to get twitter to remove obviously defaming statements or to close down an account was near impossible. Trouble tickets came back with "we're not even going to look into it." The only way I was able to get anything done was by publicly asking specific twitter employees why these accounts were permissible (some threatened physical harm). Every time something was shut down he was more firmly motivated.

The irony was that one lawyer had actually hired him to be a Social Media Guru and so he was masquerading as her when he initially lost his shit, so when he was going around saying completely nutter stuff it was appearing as though she was saying it.

Some of the lawyers tried beating this guy at his own game. One dug up a child molestation charge this person had faced, so wrote a blog post about being stalked by a pedophile. Another lawyer sent copies of the crap the guy was spouting to his current employer, etc.

In the end this guy didn't really care because he wasn't a rational human being. Eventually every single person involved got tired of trying, so gave up. It was about this time that he just went away.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:21 AM on March 19, 2011

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