Tuesday, October 14, 2008

trash posting

Now back to uncharted territory.

Today in class Keegan brought up a microdiscussion about Juicy Campus*, a website that allows anonymous posters to talk trash about their friends, their classmates, their teachers online. One aspect of the discussion involved whether or not the posts on this gossip site constitute speech protected by the first amendment.

But even if the posts weren't protected, who could you sue? Further: Who can be called to task when an anonymous source libels someone online? And for that reason, what constitutes libel online? Does the First Amendments offer blogs the same protection as, say, The New York Times? Should it?

We've addressed these issues previously, here and here, among other places. But more to the case at hand, the following article from CNN might provide if not an answer, at least food for thought. Among other things, the piece reports:

"Juicy Campus and similar Web sites are protected under Communications Decency Act of 1996. The Act aims to shield Web publishers from liability for libelous comments posted by third parties. The section states "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."


* the lack of a link to juicy campus is wholly intentional on my part.

4 comments:

Nick Norman said...

I'm not too worried about this trend catching on for one major reason: young people are generally ego-driven. The very concept of "anonymous" isn't appealing to the target demographic of this website. The popularity of social networking sites is testament to the appeal of mass broadcasting one's constructed "webself". So unless youth are hankering for a backlash against this type of projection (which I doubt), I don't think anonymous content sites will grow rapidly.

JP said...

faceliss.com

Allison Wong said...

Juicy Campus is another example of how the internet can bring up multiple issues when it comes to who's libel. I don't think websites can be tracked to who said what. I think Juicy Campus is really taking advantage of the fact that people need their slice of gossip. It's kind of sickening how it's all happening. Sites like perezhilton.com are such a waste of time.

andrea barrack said...

Though I do agree with Nick (congrats on the engagement!) that young people are very generally ego-driven, i also think that one major draw to the internet for people of all ages and dispositions is the option and freedom of anonymity.

is the culprit anonymous websites specifically or the endless opportunities of anonymity that the internet offers at every other click? Register, blog, purchase and chat with an alias (doesn't that sound better than "fake name"?) for your web accounts or profiles. in addition, you have all the freedom to spread falsities (positive or negative) about anyone and any thing if you are so inclined... and, on many websites, without repercussion.

The vast majority of the internet is not edited, much less fact checked. these days, i'm not sure how much is edited or fact checked well. the WWW is not an encyclopedia, nor is it a bank; we would never want it to ask our name and cross reference it with our SS#, fingerprint, or the name of our childhood imaginary friend when we "send", "buy", or "publish your comment". so can we expect everything we hear on it to be factual? no. do i sound cynical? you tell me :)

in my opinion, there's very little way to control or hold individuals responsible for libel on the internet... a reality of not knowing who's face is in front of the screen.

On the other hand, we have the freedom to post at will and decide with our educated and fact-checked brains what and what is not libel. i think we, as those faces in front of the screen, generally appreciate this freedom and, henceforth, are willing to overlook manipulative teenagers (and the like) who may abuse it.