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Real-World Consequences of Social Networking Posts

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the world-is-watching dept.

Censorship 451

gbulmash sends in a classic Streisand Effect story of a Chicago landlord suing a tenant over a tweet complaining of mold in her apartment. The landlord claims that the tweet caused $50,000 damage to their reputation. If it didn't, then the fallout from their own ill-advised lawsuit surely will. The woman's Twitter account is now gone (possibly on advice of counsel), but the tweet that started it all lives on. And in a similar vein, reader levicivita notes a firing over a political comment on a Facebook page. "Lee Landor, who had been the deputy press secretary to Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer since May, posted comments on her Facebook page criticizing Mr. Gates [Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr.] and the president, whom she referred to at one point as 'O-dumb-a.' ... The borough president has accepted Ms. Landor's resignation, effective immediately."

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451 comments

it was only a matter of time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28855647)

before all these social networking rantings came through to haunt/hurt us in real life....folks dont seem to understand that the internet is a serious place with actions having far reaching effects

Mod me down you faggot liberals!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28855801)

Niggers are beasts that rape and defile our aryan princesses. I cant believe you anericunts voted that ooga bongo as your president. White guilt in action.

Re:it was only a matter of time (3, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856011)

This reads much like articles we've seen for several years, just with Twitter substituted for email/blog/message board post.

Re:it was only a matter of time (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856155)

Horizon Realty is a piece of shit company who sues everyone without thinking and has moldy apartments.

Re:it was only a matter of time (1)

Forge (2456) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856329)

And now Taco will be sued.

After all everyone knows that he and Cowboy Neal are the only two Anonymous Cowards on SlashDot and this particular post has better spelling than Cowboy Neal's norm.

My advise to Slashdoters in the Chicago region. Start scraping together what cash you can. A lot of the properties managed by this moronic company will be on the market soon. Cheap.

On a side note, We have a residential facility named Horizon in Jamaica. [wikimapia.org]

Re:it was only a matter of time (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856183)

In other words, the internet is serious bizness.

Re:it was only a matter of time (3, Funny)

Col. Panic (90528) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856259)

my boss has no idea who Col. Panic is, nor does he know who anonymous coward is, for that matter

Re:it was only a matter of time (2, Insightful)

kent_eh (543303) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856501)

Yup.
As far as I know, no one that I have ever met face-to-face is aware of my username at various online forums.

Also, I avoid making posts that would connect my username with my employer, or my family.

Re:it was only a matter of time (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856305)

before all these social networking rantings came through to haunt/hurt us in real life....folks dont seem to understand that the internet is a serious place with actions having far reaching effects

... And that's not okay. We're living in a digital world. We need forums to express ourselves to some people, but not others. If the technology makes this difficult or impractical, then we need to adjust our social expectations to embrace this, not exclude it. This is the only way to move forward in the digital world with any kind of strength. Otherwise, we risk becoming a society of deaf mutes.

Re:it was only a matter of time (0, Flamebait)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856323)

Yeah, it used to be that racists like Landor would successfully conceal themselves for years, never coming out of the woodwork. With Twitter and Facebook, these people's true feelings come out and it's a lot easier to out racists. Long live the internet! :)

Re:it was only a matter of time (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856521)

Maybe I'm missing something, but how is "O-dumb-a" a racial slur?

A childish insult for sure, but racist?

Re:it was only a matter of time (4, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856377)

What about letters to the editor? What about traditional magazine articles, newspaper columns, and books? People for centuries have been publishing their opinions and ideas and we have a whole body of laws to deal with the consequences--slander (calumny, in the old days), truth in reporting, copyrights, and so forth. Then, we also have 30 years of usenet and website publishing which preceded the Facebook/Myspace/Twitter model. Society seems to have adapted pretty well to this technology.

There is nothing about social networking to distinguish it from previous publishing modalities except that it is faster and easier to publish something far and wide than it ever was before. It's accelerated information distribution, and that's what society is reacting to.

If a tenant can complain about a landlord in a matter of seconds and have an audience of hundreds of thousands, the landlord will be more upset than if the tenant just mentions it to her friends at the golf course or knitting circle or watering hole. However, nothing particularly revolutionary is happening.

"We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization". That sums it up. It's just another lawsuit-happy guy who ought to get his wrist slapped for a frivolous case, unless the defendant rolls over and pays some symbolic fine, which is likely to happen, a la RIAA.

Re:it was only a matter of time (1)

ThinkWeak (958195) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856415)

I can't wait for the first Halo 3 Chat Lawsuit. Microsoft and Bungie may put a disclaimer up about "experiences may change online", but that doesn't necessarily protect the "anonymous" party threatening others from a lawsuit. Does it?

This is stupid (5, Insightful)

EagleEye101 (834633) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855657)

I dont blame the lady for complaining. Mold is dangerous stuff and a lot of landlords dont care. My sister bought a house with undisclosed mold (illegal here in maryland) and it looks like the realitor is going to get away with it because shes a teacher who just invested her money into a house so she can not afford legal fees.These are sketchy people and deserve to be put in a bad light.

Re:This is stupid (3, Interesting)

InsaneMosquito (1067380) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855741)

Sadly, this isn't illegal in Illinois. We got lucky and our home inspector caught it before we got to far in the process. Moral of the story - get a home inspector that comes highly recommended and is very thorough.

Re:This is stupid (3, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856401)

IF the mold wasn't known, I doubt anyone state could enforce penalties.

Generally, when you buy a house, you request a full and complete disclosure from the seller. This is where you list everything you know that could be considered wrong and effect any aspect of the sale. If you can prove they knew about it and failed to disclose it, then you can pretty much recoup damages because of their failure to disclose. However, some people don't know there is mold and therefore can't be held to it. This is where a competent inspector is a good idea.

And when checking out your inspector, find out what kind of insurance and so on they have. Often if the inspector misses something, they can be made to pay (their insurance) for their lack of thoroughness. This isn't screwing the inspector or being lawsuit happy as it may sound either. You paid them to disclose anything and everything about the house and used their professional findings as a basis for your decision for a major purchase.

Re:This is stupid (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856525)

And make sure that the contract contains clauses about hidden faults that can't be easily detected.

Maybe it's also time to strengthen the freedom of speech a bit. It must be possible to vent your opinions of things without risk being harassed by neither government nor companies.

As long as it isn't false accusations it should never have to go to court.

Re:This is stupid (2, Insightful)

Radtastic (671622) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856583)

Here's the rub: The problem is, EVERY house has some amount of mold, and every person has different tolerances to it (as well as other allergens.) At what point is the combination of mold amount + tenant sensitivity become landlord liability?

Sure, 1 inch think black-mold on every wall is a pretty clear issue. But what about some mildew in the bathroom because the tenant never cleans it?

I'm not siding with the landlord here, just noting that mold issues are wide ranging.

frist psot (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28855663)

First post. posting AC to prevent Real-World Consequences.

Free speech (4, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855675)

We have it, but there are consequences for it. Sadly, the consequences seem to be getting out of hand.

Re:Free speech (5, Informative)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855947)

Too bad there are no consequences for posting a story like this and linking to an opinion piece on some site nobody's ever heard of, when you could as easily link a real newspaper in the city it happened in, like the Chicago Tribune. Landlord sues Uptown tenant for Twitter post [chicagobreakingnews.com].

BAD submission. Bad bad bad. No cookie for you!

Re:Free speech (1)

Diss Champ (934796) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856287)

Interestingly, attempting to load that link crashes my version of firefox - whether due to bad site design or a nasty advertisment, I don't know. But I can see why the submitter would have avoided that link if they had a similar problem with the site.

Re:Free speech (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856047)

I share your concern about the rise in consequences for speech(in particular, given the ease with which technology lets us retain information indefinitely. Having an excellent record of exactly what you said 10 or 15 years ago hanging over you is a pretty unnerving prospect, particularly given the period of youthful stupidity that people commonly go through.)

That said, I have a very hard time sympathising with a Press Secretary who gets fired for mouthing off on controversial issues. The whole point of the "press secretary" job is managing media relations and generally smoothing PR feathers for whoever hired you. Having highly visible and controversial opinions, particularly if they oppose that of the person you are doing media relations for, seems an obvious contradiction. I'd be much more concerned if somebody with a more or less apolitical job were being axed for political reasons.

Landlord is a moron (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855685)

Only possible legit suit you could have is one for libel. Ok well libel requires three things:

1) That the respondent made a false statement. Truth is the ultimate defense against libel. If there was, in fact, mold in the apartment then the landlord is done right here. Doesn't matter how damaging the statement was, if it is true there is fuck all you can do.

2) That the respondent knew the statement was false. If you make a false statement, but can show you believed it to be true, that can get you off the hook for libel.

3) That the statement was made with the intent of causing harm. If you make a false statement as a joke, that's not libel, you have to intend to cause harm.

That's what it requires, has to be something false, you had to know it was false, and you had to say it anyway hoping to harm your target. If it was true, well tough shit.

Re:Landlord is a moron (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28855773)

Only possible legit suit you could have is one for libel.

Did you RTFA? The landlord *is* suing for libel; it says so right in there.

Of course you're correct about truth being an absolute defense against libel in the USA, but why does everyone assume that the claim is actually true? It might be, it might not - we don't know.

It seems a bit stupid on the part of the landlord to sue over a post that apparently got read by about 20 people at most, but on the other hand, if it really IS untrue, I can also see why they wouldn't want for it to stay online where it just might get picked up by Google and returned when someone searches for e.g. the company's name.

Let's not jump to any conclusions until we actually know the facts - not *all* libel suits are unjustified.

Re:Landlord is a moron (2, Insightful)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856101)

True claim or not, the landlord may figure that using lawyers to intimidate their tenant into silence might be worth a try. What good is the truth if you cannot afford a lawyer of your own to defend yourself against liars?

Re:Landlord is a moron (2, Insightful)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856391)

True claim or not, the landlord may figure that using lawyers to intimidate their tenant into silence might be worth a try. What good is the truth if you cannot afford a lawyer of your own to defend yourself against liars?

Something tells me the landlord figured wrong here.

Re:Landlord is a moron (1)

Jared555 (874152) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856335)

So he sues and it gets picked up multiple large Internet sites. That one backfired just a little bit.

Re:Landlord is a moron (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856613)

Not really, the lawsuit could be attempting to use the exposure to prove damages. It would work something like only 20 people seeing it verses 20 million people. SO the exposure could actually be making it worse for the tenant not the landlord.

Re:Landlord is a moron (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856667)

Of course you're correct about truth being an absolute defense against libel in the USA, but why does everyone assume that the claim is actually true? It might be, it might not - we don't know.

I would tend to think its true; it'd be an odd thing to tweet if it wasn't, especially as a joke.

Re:Landlord is a moron (2, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855857)

Usually truth is a potent defense but I wouldn't count on it in this case. Telling a story far and wide, knowing that it would do harm, without some cause to spread the story may be seen as a deliberately savage attack. If the person had warned someone who was about to rent the unit then it is another issue. Keep in mind that there is a difference in remarking that you have mold in your apartment and saying that all the apartments have mold. That may be an untrue statement. Lack of being specific in her report may well amount to a lie.

Re:Landlord is a moron (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856049)

so complaining about political parties at a rally should be illegal by your logic.

Re:Landlord is a moron (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856723)

Telling a story far and wide, knowing that it would do harm, without some cause to spread the story may be seen as a deliberately savage attack.

So you're saying that one can't tell honest stories about their of lives, just because it would damage the reputation of another? I don't think that matters.. if its true its true, and perhaps the one being "damanged" should have not gotten the bad rep to begin with.

Re:Landlord is a moron (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856055)

The landlord is a company, not a person: Horizon Realty. And according to the Chicago Tribune, they're suing for just that: Libel.

Re:Landlord is a moron (3, Informative)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856061)

I think you got it upside-down and inside-out.

The twitter entry actually talks about mold in the apartment only indirectly. However it talks directly about the Horizon organization, at least according to http://mashable.com/2009/07/28/woman-sued-tweet/ [mashable.com]

"Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? [h] realty thinks itâ(TM)s okay."

So that would be difficult to prove to be true, or not?

Stephan

Re:Landlord is a moron (2, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856381)

Sounds like sarcasm to me. I think she'll be just fine. The realty company on the other hand is probably in for a world of shit.

Re:Landlord is a moron (2, Interesting)

Ironica (124657) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856091)

Only possible legit suit you could have is one for libel. Ok well libel requires three things:

1) That the respondent made a false statement. Truth is the ultimate defense against libel. If there was, in fact, mold in the apartment then the landlord is done right here.

No, not really... because the post claimed that Horizon Realty thinks it's ok [to sleep in a moldy apartment]. So, if there was a complaint about mold (the mold doesn't even have to be there, because her post didn't claim there was any), and Horizon Realty was dismissive of the complaint because they felt there was no harm to mold, then she's got the truth defense.

Quantum mold (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856167)

A) Tenant observes apartment and sees mold.

B) Landlord observes apartment and sees no mold.

Only one solution, mold has two quantum states. If jurors are taken to the apartment to view said mold then roughly half will observe the mold leading to a hung jury and no award.

Re:Landlord is a moron (1)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856201)

Since the actual post was:

"Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it's okay"

I think it is pretty easy to pass those 3 tests you list. Her claim is that Horizon thinks it is okay to sleep in a moldy apartment. Now, her apartment may have mold, but just because Horizon doesn't believe her doesn't mean they think it is okay to sleep in a moldy apartment.
She is claiming to know something she can't know (a lie), and the only reason to say such a thing is to cause harm.
Note, I really don't care what she tweets about and I'm not trying to take sides, but I can see a lawyer getting her for this.

Re:Landlord is a moron (0, Troll)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856423)

There was mention of Mold in her twat and that sleeping around is how she got it. Not sure how this has anything to do with Horizon though?

What is the past tense of a tweet anyway?

Re:Landlord is a moron (1)

ethicalBob (1023525) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856265)

Yes, but in this wonderfully litigious country of ours, you can pretty much sue anyone for anything; and if you have the money to hurt them through attrition, really make whoever you are suing really feel the hurt before your case ever makes it to the stage where it gets thrown out of court.

Why someone would want to do this, I have no idea... But it certainly happens.

first amendment (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28855707)

So here's what I don't get (and maybe a lawyer or wannabe-lawyer can explain it to me). We have the first amendment which protects us from government interference in speech. If I criticize a government official or policy the government is not allowed to retaliate in any way. Yet for some reason.... the private sector can? We've seen this before (Scientology, Streisand, etc.), and it never fails to boggle my mind that what the constitution protects from government interference, it doesn't protect from private sector lawyers.

Re:first amendment (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855883)

Why shouldn't it? I don't feel that I should be allowed to let you say whatever you want about me... let's say I run a small business that is completely built on trust and honesty. Why should you be allowed to publish slander and libel all you want, under the guise of the first amendment? It hurts my reputation, it hurts my ability to do business, etc. In fact, if you were to NOT allow me to sue you for libel/slander, all you'd be doing is protecting the ability of the rich (read: ability to publish widely due to wealth) to completely put me out of business with utter lies and nonsense. I think I should be allowed to protect myself.

Re:first amendment (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855969)

So here's what I don't get (and maybe a lawyer or wannabe-lawyer can explain it to me). We have the first amendment which protects us from government interference in speech. If I criticize a government official or policy the government is not allowed to retaliate in any way. Yet for some reason.... the private sector can? We've seen this before (Scientology, Streisand, etc.), and it never fails to boggle my mind that what the constitution protects from government interference, it doesn't protect from private sector lawyers.

In Soviet America criminal court acquit you and civil court convict you!

Re:first amendment (4, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856017)

, and it never fails to boggle my mind that what the constitution protects from government interference, it doesn't protect from private sector lawyers.

Because the first amendment is there to protect us from the government, not from each other. Go figure.

Re:first amendment (1)

zehaeva (1136559) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856615)

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

That's the 1st Amendment, the actual text of it. It says nothing about the private sector. The Constitution protects us from the government. It is what outlines government and sets up the framework for the government, not the private sector.

Welcome to the 21st Century (5, Insightful)

Hmmm2000 (1146723) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855717)

Any time you post something to any social networking site, you should imagine yourself on a podium in giving a presentation in front of millions of people. If you would be embarrassed to say it on stage, don't post it, because they are effectively the same thing now.

Re:Welcome to the 21st Century (5, Funny)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855979)

This may be true in the abstract sense of a "global audience", but really for the vast, vast majority of posts it would be more correct to imagine yourself standing at a podium in a gigantic stadium ... which has 14 people in it, and the microphone is making that feedback noise while you tap it and say "is this thing on?"

Slow news day, eh? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855725)

(person) complains about (whatever) on (new media), gets sued by (vendor)

I, for one, look forward to the first formulaic article about telepathy...

Re:Slow news day, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856015)

I personally take issue with the firing of the public employee due to her Facebook posts. She voiced her personal opinions, unrelated to her job, and not in an official capacity. IANAL but as a simple citizen who believes in America and in free speech, I think she should sue the city. I am not going to even bring up the issue of whether she would have been fired if she had been on the political correct pro-administration side. The rise of the thought police (witnes what happened to that CA model that dared to speak her mind about gay marriage) is a scary prospect - irrespective of your ideology.

Duh, she was a PRESS SECRETARY (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856563)

I personally take issue with the firing of the public employee due to her Facebook posts. She voiced her personal opinions, unrelated to her job, and not in an official capacity. IANAL but as a simple citizen who believes in America and in free speech, I think she should sue the city. I am not going to even bring up the issue of whether she would have been fired if she had been on the political correct pro-administration side. The rise of the thought police (witnes what happened to that CA model that dared to speak her mind about gay marriage) is a scary prospect - irrespective of your ideology.

Unrelated to her job? Bullshit, she was a press secretary. Their job is to engage in public relations for their boss. Publishing an opinion counter to your boss's position is simply not allowed under any circumstances. Imagine if Tony Snow had posted on his Facebook page that he thought John McCain was a loon, how long do you think he would have lasted? Boo hoo for this stupid woman. By her actions she showed her boss that she can not be trusted. How is he to know that she will not let her personal opinions slip into his official press releases? Anyone doing what she did would be fired, on any side of the political spectrum. Hell, if she'd said the same thing about some Republican, she would have been fired. You don't get to have personal opinions about politics when you are a press secretary, if you don't like that, get a different job. Spouting out grade school level insults simply proves that she does not have what it takes to be a press secretary.

Guess what? Words have consequences. That CA model was an idiot, she deserved what she got. If you spout out idiotic rants in public, people may not want to do business with you, go figure. Selfish assholes like you think free speech means you get to say whatever you want, and nobody is allowed to take offense. That's not how things work in the real world, champ. If you talk like an asshole, people will assume you are an asshole, and most people don't want to have much to do with assholes.

General dumbassery strikes again! (1)

burtosis (1124179) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855733)

Right up there with:

Why not post those pictures - afterall she's probably 18.

Or the top 10 reasons my boss is an asshole.

Hello people - it's called social networking for a reason.

Streisand Effect (3, Insightful)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855737)

If he hadn't sued her and let the story die of its own, how many people would have heard about that mold? 10? 5? So little that a clumsy shop teacher still would have enough fingers left to count them all? Instead, the whole of slashdot knows about it now!

Re:Streisand Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28855951)

I, for one, don't plan to rent from them. Merely because Horizon has proven itself incapable of rational behavior and thought. If they can't handle a tweet, how are they supposed to make decent landlords?
 
...the above is an opinion, not libel, you insensitive clods known as 'Horizon Realty'.

Re:Streisand Effect (1)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856535)

What is the actual likelihood of the Streisand Effect happening though? How many cases of censorship are successful and never heard of?

Free speech can have consequences (1)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855743)

Even the seemingly frivolous Twitter environment can have real world consequences, but is that really shocking news to anyone?

A more interesting situation would be one in which an aggrieved party sues over comments made online by someone masquerading as someone else.

Re:Free speech can have consequences (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856077)

I bet it's more shocking to find out that "fighting words" aren't protected speech.

Queue the insulted nerd litigation parade in 3..2..

I got fired for a tweet (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28855749)

Programmer and account manager for a small consultancy firm.

Went on to twitter and said that I got a user-error and for the program I was administering to unfuck itself.

Apparently the parent company didnt have a twitter presence but was having people search / spy. It got back to my company and viola - collecting unemployment.

Since then I have locked down my online profile to a MUCH greater degree - and as such im posting this anon ;)

Re:I got fired for a tweet (2, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856519)

Sounds like a good way to get rid of co-workers you don't like anonymously...

What's to stop somebody making a Twitter account in someone else's name and then Tweeting about their struggles at work and criticizing their boss and calling him an idiot?

Boom! Person you hate just got fired...

Fail (2, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855783)

I would love to see this blow up in the landlord's face -- in the process of investigating the libel claim they will certainly need to check the apartment for mold. If it can be shown that there is mold in the apartment and the landlord was notified and did nothing, I am thinking that he could be in some trouble, but IANAL. That would be, for my money, the best way that this could possibly turn out.

Landlording (2, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856289)

As an ex-landlord, I view the situation with a measure of caution.

In my experience as a landlord, most problems occur as a direct result of actions taken by the tenants. In this case, spilling water and not immediately cleaning it up will cause mold. This happens because the tenants don't "own" the property they are living in. Cleaning up requires effort, and there's no incentive on the part of the tenants to do this.

To be fair, it may have been caused by the previous tenants, and so it's not the current tenants' fault. Also, many tenants are unaware of the problems which are caused by, for example, not cleaning up the water left over from snowy boots in the entranceway.

Mold is (apparently) completely blown out of proportion by companies that want to be paid to remove it. Yes, toxic mold does occasionally happen and it should be dealt with... but it's extremely rare. Not at all the level of fear an panic that we currently see. The vast majority of mold cases are not worth the effort.

Unbelievable (5, Insightful)

Svenne (117693) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855799)

When will people learn that putting something on the web is not the same as writing it down in your own personal diary?

Really, it's not that hard.

Re:Unbelievable (1)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855923)

Mod that shit up! I agree 100%. A blog (or Facebook, or Twitter, or whatever new-fangled social network is the flavor of the week) is for general ranting / jokes / reviews / etc. Nothing should get posted there that you're not willing to answer for.

My secret plans for world domination, on the other hand, reside safely in a marble composition book.

So? (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855811)

I see no issue with this at all... in neither case.

1. The tweet is a publically "published" media outlet, so to speak. It should be treated as such. Just because you didn't print it in a newspaper doesn't mean you are immune from libel charges. IS it libel? That is what the lawsuit is for and the courts should decide. IMO, it's not libel, but I don't know if her apartment was actually moldy or not.

2. The political FB post should be valid grounds for firing, too. If I gave out company "secrets" or confidential material on FB, I'd get fired. Duh. If I am working in a political office and make a political comment in a public media outlet, I should be held accountable for what I said. If that means my boss wants me to resign because of the comment, then I don't see how FB is the culprit. If anything, it's the comment that should be argued about, not the particular outlet chosen (public bulletin board, flyer at library, Facebook post, tweet, etc). Facebook and Twitter are not private and secure messaging systems.

Re:So? (1, Flamebait)

Experiment 626 (698257) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855999)

The political FB post should be valid grounds for firing, too. If I gave out company "secrets" or confidential material on FB, I'd get fired. Duh.

I'm not sure how big of a secret Obama being "dumb" is. Some of us had that figured out for a while now.

Re:So? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856063)

Point was not that it necessarily had anything to do with Obama. Point was that when hired by certain entities (individuals or companies), there are almost always things you simply are not allowed to speak of publically. When you're a PR person for a political figure, you should probably avoid making public political statements if you want to keep your job. Facebook (and, for that matter, Twitter, blogs, etc) are basically public.

Re:So? (1, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856499)

I'm not sure how big of a secret Obama being "dumb" is. Some of us had that figured out for a while now.

Hard to imagine just how someone who supported Bush has the gall to call anyone dumb.

Two incidents, two responses (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855839)

...a Chicago landlord suing a tenant over a tweet complaining of mold in her apartment.

Was there mold? Because if there was, it's perfectly legal and the landlord can shove those papers right where the sun don't shine, and she might be able to file a countersuit and win.

The aide, Lee Landor, who had been the deputy press secretary to the Manhattan borough president, Scott M. Stringer, since May, posted comments on her Facebook page criticizing Mr. Gates and the president, whom she referred to at one point as "O-dumb-a."

If these comments were made public for anyone to view, then they might have something -- a press secretary should know better. If this was something posted privately to her friends and word leaked out, then I would say she excercised poor judgment -- but her employer did worse by firing her over it instead of a reprimand. People make mistakes -- Good managers understand that and work to correct the behavior. Bad managers paper over their own asses, and wind up costing their company/organization both human resources and morale. Legally, however, in the United States most states are "at will" employment, which basically means you have no rights whatsoever -- you can be fired for almost any reason, or none at all, without any recourse. This is one of the problems (some would say benefits) of living in the only first world country that lacks a strong labour party.

On a different note -- it's amazing how petty most people are. For example, I think you are a pompous bastard child of a whore. Curiously, I have no idea who you (the reader) are, but nevertheless, someone, somewhere, will be offended. Apparently, when people go online, they forget the social etiquette lessons they learned in grade school -- namely to ignore bullies, loud-mouths, and to have a thick skin, because there are not enough bullets in the world to kill every assh0le you're going to meet.

Re:Two incidents, two responses (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856009)

When my old slumlord landlord in NYC, name of Mark Scharfman wanted us out so he could raise the rent $2000
he had us in court for every little thing. Oh, and if you are in new york city don't rent from Mark Scharfman or
Beach Lane Management. They will lie to you, rip you off, and are other wise shifty individuals.

Posting ANON !!!!!!

Re:Two incidents, two responses (4, Informative)

evanbd (210358) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856051)

Legally, however, in the United States most states are "at will" employment, which basically means you have no rights whatsoever -- you can be fired for almost any reason, or none at all, without any recourse.

Not so. At will employment means you can be fired (or quit) without notice. It also means you can be fired without a reason. It most emphatically does not mean you can be fired for any reason, though -- for example, you can't fire someone because of race, sex, etc. even in an at-will state.

Re:Two incidents, two responses (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856243)

My post said "almost" any reason. You can't be fired for a 'protected' reason like race, sex, religion, etc. You can be fired for having blonde hair, however, or being unattractive. And most employers in "at will" states get around the protection by simply not specifying the reason.

Re:Two incidents, two responses (1)

starX (306011) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856105)

I'm totally with you on this labor party thing, but the flip side of "right to work" is that just about every non-compete form I've had shoved under my nose is basically unenforceable. And, in all fairness, if the larger unions hadn't become as corrupt as the corporate machines they were supposed to be protecting their workers from in the mid 20th century, Right to Work legislation wouldn't have got very far. Here in America, we've always seemed to brand anything that sounded a little bit like socialism as the end of free society. Maybe it's just because Americans are dumber than the average citizen? I don't know. We, as a society, have always been more interested in listening to talking points than reading/thinking for ourselves. If we weren't, we probably wouldn't be a country.

But yeah, you're totally right about the mold. The first thing she should do (now) is start documenting, get an inspector in there, pictures, air samples, etc.

This other person really ought to follow my personal policy of not friending the people I work with on facebook. And I know what you're going to say: some employers require it. I wouldn't even think twice about working for one of those.

Re:Two incidents, two responses (1)

NotBornYesterday (1093817) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856211)

"I think you are a pompous bastard child of a whore. "

Hey now, that's MR. pompous bastard child of a whore to you, if you please.

Impersonators? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28855933)

Hmm.. Lee Landor's story brings us to the question if some Chinese bloggers/hackers could impersonate a random American politician and effectively retire him by posting something which makes the waves on the tubes. That would definitely be cool.

No different than real-life actions... (4, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855943)

...other than that these are better documented. Take your clothes off for pictures on your web page, don't be surprised if that is weighed in a hiring process (might work your advantage :) Make strong, rude political statements, don't be surprised if a political organization that tries to be civil doesn't wish to have you representing them. Criticize your boss, especially if you are rude, unduly harsh, or anything other than factual, and you betchya they could terminate you for it, even in large organizations with separate HR departments. Demonstrate other behaviors that show that you're unsuited to something and they might just deny you that.

On the mold issue, I haven't seen enough to make a call. If there really is mold then I wouldn't find her in the wrong in the slightest, because Truth *should* win out even if it's not a happy truth. If there isn't a mold problem then I could see how there could be issues.

Consider what you've typed before submitting. It could come back to bite you if you're not careful.

"In a similar vein"? (1)

wytcld (179112) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855953)

Really.

On the one hand: Getting fired, when your job is in politics and people can identify you with your boss, for publicly saying something stupidly insulting ("O-dumb-a") about a major political figure (never mind which media) which people can trace back to your and your boss.

On the other hand: Making a likely factually-accurate statement in public about mold in your rental unit, and getting sued by the landlord.

If you're hired to work in politics, you know damn well you have to remain true to the politics you're working for even in your own time. You're getting paid for that, and you know it.

But the landlord's not paying the tenant! The tenant is paying the landlord, and it's part of the landlord's job to fix mold problems. So in both cases you have someone not doing their job. In the second case though, the person not doing the job is trying to legally punish the person paying him for bringing up the nonperformance in public.

What's similar here?

Re:"In a similar vein"? (1)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856459)

Not just in politics, either. While I like my company's products pretty well (especially those I work on ), even if I didn't like them, it would behoove me to keep my mouth shut about that in public if I wanted to keep my job. Or, for that matter, if I were to set up a Facebook page trashing our compeitors' products and using insulting language, I suppose that would put my employment at risk as well. We compete hard, as do other vendors in this space, but we don't go around publicly insulting each other. My observation of our marketing materials is that generally, they talk about what our strengths are, and don't even mention competitors.

I think that even the most vociferous political opponents of Obama would strongly reign in (or just fire) any staffer who wrote about Obama in that way. I don't care for Obama's policies either and if he turns out to be a one-term-and-out president, I won't be disappointed. However, making fun of his name or raising bogus attacks on his citizenship are not good ways to go about opposition. There is a certain amount of respect for the Office that is required no matter what you think of the person holding it. I don't want to attack the man. I'm sure President Obama is very personable and likable, and even his opponents admit he's an intelligent very well-spoken individual, and he seems to have higher ethical standards than Bill Clinton (or if he doesn't, he's at least far more skilled at concealing it).

Fools! (3, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | more than 4 years ago | (#28855995)

Why on God's green Earth would you post anything of any substance to any online account that can be traced back to real you without massive court involvement? These social networking sites are prime candidates for one-stop shopping sprees of information about individuals. We've got people posting everything from offensive tirades to nude pictures of themselves where anyone with a search engine and a free, anonymous account can find them.

Do people seriously think that they exist in a bubble so long as they have a keyboard in front of them? Or are their brains trapped in a bubble of ignorance and short-sightedness?

Separate YOU from online YOU, and if possible, separate online YOU into several different online YOUs such that an individual profile can't be established via common username, cross-linkage, etc. For Christ sakes, people, it's 2009. It's long, long past the point where anyone should be doing stuff this stupid. Every spot where a user can post something on the internet is an enormous billboard so high and large that everyone on Earth can see it for the rest of time. Learn to treat it as such.

Re:Fools! (2, Funny)

Garbad Ropedink (1542973) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856445)

Wish somebody had told me that when I was signing up for Slashdot. Had I known I wouldn't have used my real name as my username.

Stupidity? (1)

jmerlin (1010641) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856025)

Is it just me... or is the landlord making things much worse here. From 20 twitterers who may have ever viewed the tweet.. to making headlines on slashdot.. if 20 twitterers cost him $50,000 in reputation damages, what kind of damages does filing a lawsuit and stupidly getting your story on slashdot cause? Will he be suing slashdot next?

Usually It's White People Who 'Reveal' Themselves (1)

tealover (187148) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856111)

Anyone else notice this ? It seems that many white people use social networking sites as a way to vent and express their true feelings, as in the case of Lee Landor, a seemingly well-adjusted young, white, liberal female. But, she did go to SUNY at New Paltz, so we all understand she's no rocket scientist.

Re:Usually It's White People Who 'Reveal' Themselv (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856489)

There are several possible explanations for this. First, what are the proportions of various ethnic groups on social networking sites? If minority groups are underrepresented on social networking sites than it is quite likely that the reason is that not enough of them are there for enough of them to make really stupid comments to attract attention.
Second, often times when a minority makes a similar statement it is not considered inflammatory.

Re:Usually It's White People Who 'Reveal' Themselv (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856611)

That's cause minorities are usually shooting one another or committing crimes. White people just don't have that sort of reciprocating ethnic anger.

!thoughtcrime (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856117)

How is this "thought crime?" "Thought" implies "non published thought." If I WRITE DOWN my thoughts and someone sues me for libel, that isn't thought crime. Both of these people were perfectly free to think their opinions all they wanted. They got in trouble when they wrote them down for a significant amount of other people to see.

That's how it usually goes. The landowner isn't suing because the person thought something was moldy. Her thinking it was moldy didn't lose him, in his view, $50k. Her telling other people is what he was concerned about. If it's true, then I don't see a problem with her telling other people. If it isn't... well, that's why he's suing...

Odumba and Gates (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856231)

It was pretty stupid, after all. Our community organizer in chief has been, via his own mouth, the stupidest party involved. Keep him on the teleprompter, please, especially for press conferences.

More importantly (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856239)

... is the following:

"deputy press secretary to Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer".

WTF? deputy press secretary? The Borough President has a press secretary AND a deputy press secretary???

Everyone needs an area to vent (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856293)

and in the USA it is usually a custom to vent our feelings so that we don't hold them in and get sick.

Most of the time it is over little things, and people usually vent to their friends who take the time to listen to them.

What we have now is venting via the Internet. My advice to people who want to do that is to use a handle or nickname that cannot be traced back to them, and they post anonymously. Because now it seems as if venting using your real name can lead to libel and other charges. Yeah some web sites require a real name, I usually use Orion Blastar because it is my nickname or pen name.

Just that now there is no such thing as privacy anymore.

I've posted things I felt bad about later myself, since I have a mental illness it is easy to get caught up on venting due to my negative thoughts created by the mental illness. I am trying to learn how to control it so that I don't get into trouble or offend anyone. I usually use humor and joke around, but not everyone gets my jokes and start to take me seriously. Woe be to those who take Orion Blastar seriously because I claim to be a space pirate ninja from 4096 AD. I make posts and stuff in character, and pirate ninjas are not always known to be nice. But I am trying to tone down my character so he isn't as offensive as he used to be. This is more role playing than anything, but sometimes my character makes posts that get modded up on Slashdot.

Points (2, Informative)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856297)

Coouple interesting things: (1) It's not an individual landlord doing this, it's a large real estate company. Hey, companies do stupid things. (2) Read the following proud quote and hope the die by their own sword:

"How much damage can a Tweet do? According to property management company Horizon Realty, $50,000 worth... Horizon's Jeffrey Michael is quoted in the Sun-Times as saying 'The statements are obviously false, and it's our intention to prove that', adding that Horizon has a good reputation to protect. Bonnen wasn't contacted before the suit was filed or asked to remove the Tweet, he said: 'We're a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization'."

http://mashable.com/2009/07/28/woman-sued-tweet/ [mashable.com]

How long .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28856361)

Before non-disclosure agreements become a standard part of leases?

You You First Amendment Quoter (1)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28856491)

"Freedom of Speech does not imply Freedom from Consequence"

You are free to do damn near anything. We do not have pre-crime cops yet... yet...

But a private citizen also has the freedom to litigate, challenge, and defend their name, integrity, and honor.

The Constitution places limits on government, not it's citizens. Christian publishers are well and clear to refuse to publish anti-christian works. That is censorship, but the private world is free to do so. Any parent who has uttered to a 10 year old "you are too young to watch that" has engaged in censorship.

Right or wrong, the ability to challenge peoples statements is a fundamental freedom just as well as the accusation they challenge.

The problem is the inequality in civil court of haves vs have-nots. Justice is blind because she can weigh gold easy enough.

The solution is to start scoring lawyers to ensure they are doing due dilligence in ensuring a case is valid before taking it and reprimanding them when they abuse the courts. If there is in fact mold in the apartment the lawyer should simply say, "you have no case. Clean the mold..."

The problem is there is always some lawyer with no principle that will take the case and use the courts as an extortion tool. Hell the MAFIAA is built on legal shakedowns....

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