Can anonymous participation online get you in trouble with the law?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 30, 2013 6:11 PM GMT
    Many people like to separate their "real life" behavior from their online behavior, relying on the anonymity of the Internet to protect them from retribution. They adopt outrageous personalities and do things online that, presumably, they would never do IRL. But is the Internet really so separate from real life?

    We're not talking about inadvertently offending people here. Opinions differ, and it's normal for clashing points of view to cause hurt feelings now and then. We're talking about intent to cause harm.

    As far as I know, trolling is not covered by law, but it is usually addressed in a site's terms of use (TOU). Bullying is generally covered by both TOU and applicable law, although the law around online bullying is just developing. Defamation is also covered by both TOU and law. Here, applicable law is pretty well established, and libel has clearly defined standards.

    So, all you legal eagles on RJ, what is your opinion about all this? How successful will a member of an online community be in defending him/herself against real life legal action based upon his/her online behavior? What lessons should this teach us about how we should behave online?
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    May 30, 2013 6:11 PM GMT
    On a personal note, I have been harassed on an Internet site by at least one individual who made up lies in an effort to get the community to turn against me. Lots of people saw it happen, some of whom know who I am IRL, and it has caused a great deal of harm. I warned this person there would be consequences if the behavior continued, but he seems to think he's above the law. As a result, I will be pursuing legal action for defamation. A lawyer has offered to take the case pro bono, but anyone who wants to contribute in some way is welcome.

    Naturally, you cannot pursue legal action unless you can find out the real name and address of the defendant. As an experiment, I wanted to see how difficult it would be to find that information. As it turns out, it took me less than one minute to find his real name, address, telephone number, personal website, resume, multiple photographs, multiple videos, and a host of other personal information.

    This underscores the fact that we are not truly anonymous online, and we need to take certain precautions. First and foremost, we must be careful not to violate any laws online. But second, we should be aware that if it was so easy for me to find this information, it will be equally easy for others to do so. Imagine an employer looking into your job application and finding your posts here. Imagine a prospective partner seeing your comments. How about an identity thief? I'm sure we can think of many other examples of our online behavior coming back to bite us on the ass in unanticipated ways.
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    May 30, 2013 6:13 PM GMT
    Girl, grow up....

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    May 30, 2013 6:21 PM GMT
    RadRTT saidGirl, grow up....

    Was that a misogynist remark? I wonder why people think prefacing an insult with the word "girl" is appropriate. I don't happen to be effeminate, but I think it's rude to women and effeminate gay men to use "girl" as a pejorative.
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    May 30, 2013 6:23 PM GMT
    shortbutsweet said
    RadRTT saidGirl, grow up....

    Was that a misogynist remark? I wonder why people think prefacing an insult with the word "girl" is appropriate. I don't happen to be effeminate, but I think it's rude to women and effeminate gay men to use "girl" as a pejorative.
    It has nothing to do with that.......

    Boy, this is sad
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 30, 2013 6:29 PM GMT
    People today are so plugged in walking around with a cell phone in there heads that what goes on in front of them is just a blur .
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    May 30, 2013 6:33 PM GMT
    RadRTT said
    shortbutsweet said
    RadRTT saidGirl, grow up....

    Was that a misogynist remark? I wonder why people think prefacing an insult with the word "girl" is appropriate. I don't happen to be effeminate, but I think it's rude to women and effeminate gay men to use "girl" as a pejorative.
    It has nothing to do with that.......

    Boy, this is sad


    That was amusing, anyway. What's sad or not adult about this topic, in your opinion? Aren't you the one who occasionally encourages others to be more christian?
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    May 30, 2013 6:35 PM GMT
    shortbutsweet said
    RadRTT said
    shortbutsweet said
    RadRTT saidGirl, grow up....

    Was that a misogynist remark? I wonder why people think prefacing an insult with the word "girl" is appropriate. I don't happen to be effeminate, but I think it's rude to women and effeminate gay men to use "girl" as a pejorative.
    It has nothing to do with that.......

    Boy, this is sad


    That was amusing, anyway. What's sad or not adult about this topic, in your opinion? Aren't you the one who occasionally encourages others to be more christian?
    o_O What? I have never once tried to get anyone to be Christian....Are you high?

    I am real jocks adorable and lovable attention whore who controls the google hangouts.

    And if you have to ask why it's sad...it does not matter anymore
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    May 30, 2013 6:43 PM GMT
    Aristoshark said
    shortbutsweet said
    RadRTT saidGirl, grow up....

    Was that a misogynist remark? I wonder why people think prefacing an insult with the word "girl" is appropriate. I don't happen to be effeminate, but I think it's rude to women and effeminate gay men to use "girl" as a pejorative.

    Do you fucking have Asperger's?
    You're the most socially inept and offensive person I've ever run across online,
    A lawyer on this site has already told you that your revenge fantasies are hopeless. In his words "Good luck finding a lawyer to take that case."

    You are beyond pathetic.

    And to all these dear friends who know you in real life: they are imaginary. Get help.


    You have accused me several times of having Asperger's syndrome and other personality disorders. Now, you are asking whether I have it? That demonstrates two things. First, you clearly don't think lying about someone in a public forum, with the intent to harm their reputation, exposes you to legal liability. My personal opinion is that you will be surprised. Second, you lack sensitivity toward those who really do suffer from mental illness. People who are truly mentally ill deserve our sympathy, not our contempt.

    And, of course, you didn't bother to read the first post, in which I clearly stated at least one attorney is happy to take the case. I expect others to join in.

    Please recognize that a conversation about the legality of online abusiveness is not an appropriate forum in which to air your personal grievances against other members.
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    May 30, 2013 6:45 PM GMT
    RadRTT said
    shortbutsweet said
    RadRTT said
    shortbutsweet said
    RadRTT saidGirl, grow up....

    Was that a misogynist remark? I wonder why people think prefacing an insult with the word "girl" is appropriate. I don't happen to be effeminate, but I think it's rude to women and effeminate gay men to use "girl" as a pejorative.
    It has nothing to do with that.......

    Boy, this is sad


    That was amusing, anyway. What's sad or not adult about this topic, in your opinion? Aren't you the one who occasionally encourages others to be more christian?
    o_O What? I have never once tried to get anyone to be Christian....Are you high?

    I am real jocks adorable and lovable attention whore who controls the google hangouts.

    And if you have to ask why it's sad...it does not matter anymore


    I didn't say you were evangelizing for Chrisianity. That's why I spelled the word with a small "c." It seems to me just a day or two ago you suggested we all need Jesus. Was that just a joke, then?
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    May 30, 2013 6:49 PM GMT
    shortbutsweet said

    I didn't say you were evangelizing for Chrisianity. That's why I spelled the word with a small "c." It seems to me just a day or two ago you suggested we all need Jesus. Was that just a joke, then?
    It's time for you to put your head on the desk....
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    May 30, 2013 6:53 PM GMT
    My personal opinion based on my interactions with the OP and watching his interactions here with others is that that effort would be better spent learning to get along with others than tilting at legal windmills.

    OP does just fine turning people against himself, he doesn't need help in that endeavor. And I know he made up at least one lie about me.

    Lessons about how we should behave online? Sure. If you're nice to others, they generally are quite pleasant in return.

  • RaggedyMan

    Posts: 7185

    May 30, 2013 6:54 PM GMT
    why would you want to seek legal action? Cyber bullying is serious, i agree. Would you sue someone IRL if they disagreed with you as well? Waste of time
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    May 30, 2013 7:03 PM GMT
    What kind of "lies" shortbus?

    Like the one you told about Me "stalking " you with PMs?

    When I have NEVER sent a PM to you EVER?

    Get a lawyer.

    Go to Court.

    Spend every last cent you have fighting windmills Don Quixote.

    Every post makes you sound moar ridiculous.

    Yer angry that nobody likes you.

    That is NOT actionable.





    Or BETTER idea ... put your shirt back on (for the LOVE OF GOD) and go elsewhere. NO ONE owes you a fucking thing here.
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    May 30, 2013 7:26 PM GMT
    sanjose408 saidwhy would you want to seek legal action? Cyber bullying is serious, i agree. Would you sue someone IRL if they disagreed with you as well? Waste of time


    "he" is not bullied - "he" is addressed and "he" doesn't like it.

    No one is going to multiple websites and slandering "him."

    "he" has infected this site and is pissy that pretty much EVERYONE dislikes "him."

    One would think "he" would be used to it by now....
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    May 30, 2013 7:26 PM GMT
    showme saidMy personal opinion based on my interactions with the OP and watching his interactions here with others is that that effort would be better spent learning to get along with others than tilting at legal windmills.

    OP does just fine turning people against himself, he doesn't need help in that endeavor. And I know he made up at least one lie about me.

    Lessons about how we should behave online? Sure. If you're nice to others, they generally are quite pleasant in return.



    I have never lied about you, so I hope you are prepared to defend that false statement with evidence. Furthermore, if, as someone suggested, you have been giving legal advice to other members, I hope you are licensed in the appropriate state(s) and have met with them in person to discuss their legal matters. You wouldn't want to engage in the unauthorized practice of law, would you? Since we're talking about the legal consequences of online actions, can't a person be arrested for that? Are you providing competent representation?
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    May 30, 2013 7:30 PM GMT
    RadRTT said
    shortbutsweet said

    I didn't say you were evangelizing for Chrisianity. That's why I spelled the word with a small "c." It seems to me just a day or two ago you suggested we all need Jesus. Was that just a joke, then?
    It's time for you to put your head on the desk....


    Perhaps this will refresh your memory:

    RadRTT said
    Aristoshark said
    RadRTT saidbel004.gif

    Jesus the gardener? He's hawt.

    Sexy-Shirtless-Gardener.jpg
    No, you all need Jesus, The Lord and Savior. But, I will take Jesus the gardener while you are all learning about our Lord!
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    May 30, 2013 7:35 PM GMT
    Cash saidWhat kind of "lies" shortbus?

    Like the one you told about Me "stalking " you with PMs?

    When I have NEVER sent a PM to you EVER?

    Get a lawyer.

    Go to Court.

    Spend every last cent you have fighting windmills Don Quixote.

    Every post makes you sound moar ridiculous.

    Yer angry that nobody likes you.

    That is NOT actionable.





    Or BETTER idea ... put your shirt back on (for the LOVE OF GOD) and go elsewhere. NO ONE owes you a fucking thing here.


    If you're going to perpetuate another lie in a public forum, I suggest you check your records.

    But don't make this thread about you. This is a general discussion about the legality in real life of certain behaviors online. I did not mention any names, and I would prefer if others don't either.
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    May 30, 2013 7:37 PM GMT
    And by taking me seriously in that post and finding it, you have just confirmed for the court that your are incompetent
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    May 30, 2013 7:39 PM GMT
    shortbutsweet said
    showme saidMy personal opinion based on my interactions with the OP and watching his interactions here with others is that that effort would be better spent learning to get along with others than tilting at legal windmills.

    OP does just fine turning people against himself, he doesn't need help in that endeavor. And I know he made up at least one lie about me.

    Lessons about how we should behave online? Sure. If you're nice to others, they generally are quite pleasant in return.



    I have never lied about you, so I hope you are prepared to defend that false statement with evidence. Furthermore, if, as someone suggested, you have been giving legal advice to other members, I hope you are licensed in the appropriate state(s) and have met with them in person to discuss their legal matters. You wouldn't want to engage in the unauthorized practice of law, would you? Since we're talking about the legal consequences of online actions, can't a person be arrested for that? Are you providing competent representation?


    I'm not giving legal advice to anyone here.

    You said that I personally got a thread deleted with my "creepy" comments. That was a lie.
  • RaggedyMan

    Posts: 7185

    May 30, 2013 7:47 PM GMT
    What are your actual damages from these anonymous statements? A case of butthurt doesn't count.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    May 30, 2013 8:30 PM GMT
    No
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 30, 2013 8:59 PM GMT
    showme said
    shortbutsweet said
    showme saidMy personal opinion based on my interactions with the OP and watching his interactions here with others is that that effort would be better spent learning to get along with others than tilting at legal windmills.

    OP does just fine turning people against himself, he doesn't need help in that endeavor. And I know he made up at least one lie about me.

    Lessons about how we should behave online? Sure. If you're nice to others, they generally are quite pleasant in return.



    I have never lied about you, so I hope you are prepared to defend that false statement with evidence. Furthermore, if, as someone suggested, you have been giving legal advice to other members, I hope you are licensed in the appropriate state(s) and have met with them in person to discuss their legal matters. You wouldn't want to engage in the unauthorized practice of law, would you? Since we're talking about the legal consequences of online actions, can't a person be arrested for that? Are you providing competent representation?


    I'm not giving legal advice to anyone here.

    You said that I personally got a thread deleted with my "creepy" comments. That was a lie.


    Is that what I said? If so, what are you disputing? That your comments were creepy (you called me a "mewling sycophant," among other things, for supporting human rights), or that the thread was taken down (it was)?

    And, isn't it customary to make a disclaimer that you are not giving legal advice, at the time you dispense what appears to be legal advice?
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 30, 2013 9:01 PM GMT
    Everyone the guy is clearly a troll....Just stop replying, no one in this world is this ignorant
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    May 30, 2013 9:09 PM GMT
    shortbutsweet said
    showme said
    shortbutsweet said
    showme saidMy personal opinion based on my interactions with the OP and watching his interactions here with others is that that effort would be better spent learning to get along with others than tilting at legal windmills.

    OP does just fine turning people against himself, he doesn't need help in that endeavor. And I know he made up at least one lie about me.

    Lessons about how we should behave online? Sure. If you're nice to others, they generally are quite pleasant in return.



    I have never lied about you, so I hope you are prepared to defend that false statement with evidence. Furthermore, if, as someone suggested, you have been giving legal advice to other members, I hope you are licensed in the appropriate state(s) and have met with them in person to discuss their legal matters. You wouldn't want to engage in the unauthorized practice of law, would you? Since we're talking about the legal consequences of online actions, can't a person be arrested for that? Are you providing competent representation?


    I'm not giving legal advice to anyone here.

    You said that I personally got a thread deleted with my "creepy" comments. That was a lie.


    Is that what I said? If so, what are you disputing? That your comments were creepy (you called me a "mewling sycophant," among other things, for supporting human rights), or that the thread was taken down (it was)?

    And, isn't it customary to make a disclaimer that you are not giving legal advice, at the time you dispense what appears to be legal advice?


    I don't really care if you think I'm creepy, but you said that my comments caused the thread to be taken down which is a misstatement. Also, I don't remember calling you a mewling sycophant, but if I did it was because you were chastising people for supporting gay marriage, purportedly because it was going to result in violence against them. Not for supporting human rights. So another misstatement.

    As I said, I'm not giving anyone legal advice, so no disclaimer necessary.

    Anyway, I'm starting to think you are nothing but a troll, no one creates this many flame wars without meaning to.