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Internet Defamation Suit Tests Online Anonymity

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the nameless-and-hope-to-stay-that-way dept.

The Courts 249

The Xoxo Reader writes "Reuters reports that two women at Yale Law School have filed suit for defamation and infliction of emotional distress against an administrator and 28 anonymous posters on AutoAdmit (a.k.a. Xoxohth), a popular law student discussion site. Experts are watching to see if the suit will unmask the posters, who are identified in the complaint only by their pseudonyms. Since AutoAdmit's administrators have previously said that they do not retain IP logs of posters, identifying the defendants may test the limits of the legal system and anonymity on the Internet. So far, one method tried was to post the summons on the message board itself and ask the defendants to step forward. The controversy leading to this lawsuit was previously discussed on Slashdot."

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test that! (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549171)

(fat) Motherfuxxers!

nonsense (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549185)

The women who filed this suit have no case. I also have it on good authority that they are terrible students who neglect their studies, sleep around, take drugs and will no doubt become awful lawyers not fit to pass the bar.

Furthermore, if they don't have sex with children, embezzle money, practise cruelty to animals and throw firebombs at orphans as a recreational activitiy, then my name is not Anonymous Coward.

Re:nonsense (0, Redundant)

228e2 (934443) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549223)

The women who filed this suit have no case
I suggest you look up the meaning of libel. If the women can prove these remarks played a part in their hiring, or lackof, then they have a legit case.

Re:nonsense (1)

jb.cancer (905806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549431)

IMHO, it's difficult to pin blame on some particular group. It's just that we're trying to apply familiar rules (of our physical society) to a totally new territory, one that just doesn't follow the same dynamics - The Internet (yes, those pipes).

Re:nonsense (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549613)

I think you need to change the batteries in your joke detector.

sense (2, Informative)

sethg (15187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550625)

Even if they can't prove that the remarks played a part in their not-being-hired, some of the accusations, like "X has herpes", are pro se libel--meaning that they are so obviously defamatory that the plaintiffs don't have to prove to the court that they caused damage.

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549345)

n/t

Re:nonsense (0, Redundant)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549355)

Nice...only six minutes before the first person who completely missed the joke responded, and in the meantime, somebody has modded you "Troll."

Re:nonsense (1)

trippeh (1097403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550501)

That's alright, everyone else has modded it up already, so justice is done.

Mod parent up (1)

rockhome (97505) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549411)

Satire, thy name is Annonymous Coward

Rudy Guiliani: Crime Went Down When I Was Mayor (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19550015)

Crime dropped in the U.S. while you were mayor, goofball.

Why does Rudy Guiliani promote a culture of dependency and failure? Anger? Fear? Stupidity? Some deep brain-damaged urging of his soul? The answer cannot easily be found, but the claim that granting him complete control over our lives is as important as breathing air is illusory. And that's why I feel compelled to say something about bloodthirsty, lewd meatheads.

Not to belabor the point, but Guiliani knows that performing an occasional act of charity will make some people forgive -- or at least overlook -- all of his ungrateful excesses. My take on the matter is that I wonder what would happen if he really did regulate ageism. There's a spooky thought. This may sound like caricature, but someone has been giving his brain a very thorough washing, and now Guiliani is trying to do the same to us. I don't know which are worse, right-wing tyrants or left-wing tyrants. But I do know that if I want to tear off all my clothes and run naked down the street, that should be my prerogative. I really don't need Guiliani forcing me to. Now, why all this fuss about a few malignant prognoses? Simply put, it's because his primary viewpoint, that he can achieve his goals by friendly and moral conduct, is directly related to the attitudes in our society that pervert human instincts by suppressing natural, feral constraints and encouraging abnormal patterns of behavior. Still, I recommend you check out some of his op-ed pieces and draw your own conclusions on the matter.

Guiliani's prank phone calls are built on a backlash fueled by anger -- in the form of resentment, spite, vengeance, envy, loss, and bitterness over declining status -- on the part of obstinate, sinful knuckle-draggers. And here, I contend, lies a clue to the intellectual vacuum so gapingly apparent in Guiliani's methods of interpretation. Even giving Guiliani the benefit of the doubt, I and Guiliani part company when it comes to the issue of classism. He feels that women are spare parts in the social repertoire -- mere optional extras -- while I claim that when a friend wants to drive inebriated, you try to stop him. Well, Guiliani is drunk with power, which is why we must anneal discourse with honesty, clear thinking, and a sense of moral good.

We can never return to the past. And if we are ever to move forward to the future, we decidedly have to encourage open, civic engagement. Consider the following, which I'll address in greater detail later: We can all have daydreams about Happy Fuzzy Purple Bunny Land, where everyone is caring, loving, and nice. Not only will those daydreams not come true, but Guiliani has frequently been spotted making nicey-nice with the most judgmental know-nothings you'll ever see. Is this because he needs their help to sell otherwise perfectly reasonable people the idée fixe that his fairy tales epitomize wholesome family entertainment? To ask that question another way, to what depths of depravity does he need to descend before the rest of us realize we must improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable in our society -- the sick, the old, the disabled, the unemployed, and our youth -- all of whose lives are made miserable by Rudy Guiliani? Apparently, even know-it-all Guiliani doesn't know the answer to that one. It wouldn't even matter much if he did, given that he sees no reason why he shouldn't create a world without history, without philosophy, without science, without reason -- a world without beauty of any kind, without art, without literature, without culture. It is only through an enlightened, outraged citizenry that such moral turpitude, corruption, and degradation of the law can be brought to a halt. So, let me enlighten and outrage you by stating that Guiliani apparently can't tell the difference between flirting and sexual harassment, between white lies and perjury, or between a schoolboy carrying a butter knife and carrying a switchblade. Now, that last statement is a bit of an oversimplification, an overgeneralization. But it is nevertheless substantially true.

Up to this point, we have explored some of the motivations and circumstances that make Guiliani want to perpetuate misguided and questionable notions of other empty-headed, treacherous wisenheimers' intentions. However, we must look beyond both Guiliani's motivations and history if we are truly to understand his ramblings. Think of his analects as being the sum of two components: a delusional component that consists of his desire to encourage a deadly acceptance of intolerance and a beer-guzzling component that consists of everything else. We are concerned primarily with the former.

Guiliani has recently been going around claiming that he is cunctipotent. You really have to tie your brain in knots to be gullible enough to believe that junk. I recently received some mail in which the writer stated, "As a dynamic historical current, gnosticism has taken many different forms and has evolved dramatically in some ways." I included that quote not because it is exceptional in any way, but rather, because it is typical of much of the mail I receive. I included it to show you that I'm not the only one who thinks that Guiliani's cat's-paws think that "all literature which opposes deconstructionism was forged by yawping malicious-types." First off, that's a lousy sentence. If they had written that Guiliani must be suffering from some severe mental strabismus to think that the rules don't apply to him, then that quote would have had more validity. As it stands, his perorations are like an enormous mysticism-spewing machine. We must begin dismantling that structure. We must put a monkey wrench in its gears. And we must get the facts out in the hope that somebody will do something to solve the problem, because like fire, Guiliani is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. At the risk of sounding a tad redundant, let me add that Guiliani has stated that he is as innocent as a newborn lamb. One clear inference from that statement -- an inference that is never really disavowed -- is that his cop-outs are a breath of fresh air amid our modern culture's toxic cloud of chaos. Now that's just ultra-mealymouthed. If you're the type who dares to think for yourself, then you've probably already determined that Guiliani may be reasonably cunning with words. However, he is absolutely self-pitying with everything else. His mercenaries have the power to threaten national security whenever they feel like it. Ergo, in the Old Testament, the Book of Kings relates how the priests of Baal were slain for deceiving the people. I'm not suggesting that there be any contemporary parallel involving Guiliani, but I overheard one of Guiliani's underlings, who are legion, say, "The Eleventh Commandment is, 'Thou shalt trick our children into adopting unconventional, disapproved-of opinions and ways of life'." This quotation demonstrates the power of language, as it epitomizes the "us/them" dichotomy within hegemonic discourse. As for me, I prefer to use language to encourage opportunity, responsibility, and community.

Guiliani's eccentricity is surpassed only by his vanity. And his vanity is surpassed only by his empty theorizing. (Remember his theory that the world's salvation comes from whims, irrationality, and delusions?) Heathenism doesn't work. So why does Guiliani cling to it? This is not a question that we should run away from. Rather, it is something that needs to be addressed quickly and directly, because Guiliani labels anyone he doesn't like as "directionless". That might well be a better description of him. For a variety of reasons, some strategic, some ideological, some attitudinal, and all of them wrong, revolting blockheads perpetuate myths that glorify Pyrrhonism. When I say that small minds are little troubled by this, I don't just mean that he wants to lay waste to the environment, that he wants to enthrone falsehood in the very center of human thought, or that he wants to paint people of different races and cultures as lecherous alien forces undermining the coherent national will. Sure, Guiliani unquestionably wants all that, but he also wants much more. He wants to empty the meaning of such concepts as "self," "justice," "freedom," and other profundities.

In many ways, the objection may still be raised that we should be grateful for the precious freedom to be robbed and kicked in the face by such a noble creature as Guiliani. At first glance, this sounds almost believable. Yet the following must be borne in mind: Many people are convinced that Guiliani has become a patsy to his own malevolence. I can't comment on that, but I can say that mankind needs to do more to denounce his goals. Understand, I am not condemning mankind for not doing enough; I am merely stating that Guiliani keeps telling everyone within earshot that he can make all of our problems go away merely by sprinkling some sort of magic pink pixie dust over everything that he considers narrow-minded or brazen. I'm guessing that Guiliani read that on some Web site of dubious validity. More reliable sources generally indicate that I feel that writing this letter is like celestial navigation. Before directional instruments were invented, sailors navigated the seas by fixing their compass on the North Star. But Guiliani's poxy witticisms turn a deaf ear to need and suffering. Guiliani then blames us for that. Now there's a prizewinning example of psychological projection if I've ever seen one. If you were to tell Guiliani that he and his forces are social pariahs and should be ostracized, he'd just pull his security blanket a little tighter around himself and refuse to come out and deal with the real world. Lest I forget to mention this later, his reason is not true reason. It does not seek the truth, but only bestial answers, snivelling resolutions to conflicts. All right, enough of that. Now let's talk about something else. Let's talk about how it's debatable whether Guiliani should stop and savor life, not put increased disruptive powers in the hands of scary, vainglorious prophets of autism. However, no one can disagree that only through education can individuals gain the independent tools they need to break the neck of Guiliani's policy of imperialism once and for all. But the first step is to acknowledge that he wants us to believe that we can solve all of our problems by giving him lots of money. We might as well toss that money down a well, because we'll never see it again. What we will see, however, is that anyone who has spent much time wading through the pious, obscurantist, jargon-filled cant that now passes for "advanced" thought in the humanities already knows that Guiliani deserves to be punished. What may be news, however, is that the poisonous wine of extremism had been distilled long before he entered the scene. Guiliani is merely the agent decanting the poisonous fluid from its bottle into the jug that is world humanity.

Guiliani wants to sweep his peccadillos under the rug. You know what groups have historically wanted to do the same thing? Fascists and Nazis. To put it another way, his secret passion is to dissolve the bonds that join individuals to their natural communities. For shame!

While I agree with others' assessment that the sententious and doctrinaire nature of Guiliani's stances should indicate to us that something needs to be done, still, just the other day, some of Guiliani's squalid surrogates forced a prospectus into my hands as I walked past. The prospectus described Guiliani's blueprint for a world in which the most harebrained fence-sitters you'll ever see are free to sensationalize all of the issues. As I dropped the prospectus onto an overflowing wastebasket, I reflected upon the way that Guiliani's shenanigans are very much in line with wild Bonapartism in that they muster enough force to irrationalize thinking on every issue. (Actually, he is trying to hold himself up as a cultural icon but that's not important now.) All I'm trying to do here is indicate in a rough and approximate way the uneducated tendencies that make Guiliani want to cause people to betray one another and hate one another. Maybe it's just me, but don't you think that he finds enemies everywhere? So let me make it clear that it would be wrong to imply that he is involved in some kind of conspiracy to deny the obvious. It would be wrong because his quips are far beyond the conspiracy stage. Not only that, but there is still hope for our society, real hope -- not the false sense of hope that comes from the mouths of abhorrent pettifoggers, but the hope that makes you eager to show principle, gumption, verve, and nerve. I think I've dished it out to Rudy Guiliani as best as I can in this letter. I hope you now understand why I say that one could make a strong argument that Guiliani was rather wide of the mark when he said that people don't mind having their communities turned into war zones.

Sincerely,
K. Trout

Re:Rudy Guiliani (2, Funny)

trippeh (1097403) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550765)

The author of the above post has asked me to take the time to point out that he is a poet first, and a would-be assassin second.

Re:nonsense (4, Funny)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550091)

I also have it on good authority that they are terrible students who neglect their studies, sleep around, take drugs and will no doubt become awful lawyers not fit to pass the bar.
In other words they'll be just like every other lawyer!

Serving the summons? (4, Interesting)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549217)

IANAL, but honestly, I can't see how this could move forward unless the identities are revealed. How else are you going to serve a summons to "LawGuy69" and "LegallyBlonde11111one"? The laws regarding serving summons are pretty explicit.

Re:Serving the summons? (5, Informative)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549289)

IANAL also, but my father is (well, an attorney, anyways), and I seem to recall that part of getting "served" is that it must be shown that you received your summons. It is fairly common to hear of stories in the legal profession of people trying to dodge getting served, and people serving said papers doing mischevious things to try to pressure their targets to comply.

Posting a summons on an internet message board would probably do a lot to get people's attention (which, IMHO, seems to be kind of the root cause of this case to begin with), but there's no legal way to prove it was read unless the defendants post in thread. Which, even then, sounds rather lame to me..

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549375)

Doesn't there have to be proof the one being served have read the summons? Isn't that the whole point of a sheriff serving the papers directly to a person, or someone receiving some sort of certified mail with a kind of receipt?

Re:Serving the summons? (-1, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549455)

Clearly, we need transparency more than we need privacy.

The state of the world is mute evidence that privacy doesn't entice whistleblowing, or we never would have gotten to this state.

Privacy entices threats of rape and sodomy. And not among stupid two-bit criminals either. This is what it evokes among those entrusted with the law.

Privacy is a state of Ignorance

Maintaining Privacy is a Conspiracy

Privacy has no place in a free society.

Re:Serving the summons? (5, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549521)

Privacy has no place in a free society.

Really? I would assert that privacy is fundamental to the perpetuation of a free society. But this isn't an issue about privacy, it's about anonymity, which is different. I may privately think that another person molests children. I may even write this down in my diary, and I would maintain that it would be unethical for others to force me to reveal these completely private thoughts.

I certainly wouldn't have the ethical standing to publish this diary anonymously, however. Do you see the difference?

Re:Serving the summons? (-1, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549671)

No. There isn't a difference. The illusion that there's a difference is what makes all these monstrous things possible.

If you're sitting around thinking that so and so is molesting children, either they are indeed molesting children, and we need to get that sorted out right away before it happens again, or you're sitting there imagining horrors that aren't real to fill in the gaps of your ignorance and fear, and we need to get that sorted out right away before you do something stupid.

In this case though, all we have is a bunch of threats made from cover of anonymity, destroying the lives of the threatened.

In addition to the harm already done, we have the certain knowledge that there are people entering into the highest offices of law who are of such shockingly poor moral fiber that they would threaten to rape and sodomize one of their peers when they think they can get away with it.

That makes the entire mechanism of law suspect. And being that it is suspect, it has no moral authority over anyone. It is not deserving of the respect you give something noble and good in its current state, but only of the fearful respect you give to something that might hurt you unpredictably.

That's what privacy gives you. Conspiracy.

Re:Serving the summons? (5, Insightful)

zarkill (1100367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549855)

...or you're sitting there imagining horrors that aren't real to fill in the gaps of your ignorance and fear, and we need to get that sorted out right away before you do something stupid.
This line of thought seems like exactly the reason privacy is important. Because apparently there are people who think that "imagining horrors" is something that needs to be "sorted out" by some higher authority.

Ok, so say I'm imagining some horrors. What then? What do you propose should be done to me, to "sort me out"? You're assuming that I'm going to "do something stupid" so are you suggesting that my "ignorance and fear" should be corrected preemptively?

If I'm prone to imagining horrors, should I be submitted to some kind of corrective therapy, against my will, just to be sure that my ignorance and fear don't get the better of me? Even if I never really would do "something stupid" about it? What's wrong with letting me have my ignorance and fear? Who are you to tell me what I should or shouldn't think or imagine?

Frankly, I think a world where privacy is unneeded would be great, but in such a world everyone would have to mind their own business. As long as there are people who believe in thoughtcrime, and people who want to "sort you out" before you "do something stupid", I think maybe privacy is something we should hang onto for just a bit longer.

Re:Serving the summons? (0, Troll)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550445)

Ok, so say I'm imagining some horrors. What then? What do you propose should be done to me, to "sort me out"? You're assuming that I'm going to "do something stupid" so are you suggesting that my "ignorance and fear" should be corrected preemptively?

No, dumbass.

You should be able to check the records of the person you suspect and assure yourself that there isn't anything going on.

And if there is abuse going on, thanks for turning them out. We better all put a stop to that together, don't you think?

And if there isn't any abuse going on, now you can relax and not go about your life under horrible false assumptions.

Understand... privacy is at the root of the whole "1984esque-thoughtcrime" idea. In that scenario, your neighbour doesn't know what you do, you don't know what they do, but big brother knows what everyone does.

Understand... you can't cut off "big brother", it isn't possible. He's already there, now, reading your credit card records and watching you on the uncensored version of google earth.

All you can do is see to it that big brother doesn't know more than you do, and that your neighbours are equally well informed.

The more you struggle vainly to defend your privacy, the more you ensure that there is a greater imbalance of knowledge between those in power and those not in power.

You assure that there will be no one brave enough to speak beside you when you are found to be violating the law IN THE EXACT SAME WAY THEY ARE because they don't want anyone to know that they are like you.

You are sold privacy by those who are advantaged by it in the exact way I describe. But it is not in your best interest.

It is an instrumental part of the mechanism of your control.

Re:Serving the summons? (4, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549947)

If you're sitting around thinking that so and so is molesting children, either they are indeed molesting children, and we need to get that sorted out right away before it happens again, or you're sitting there imagining horrors that aren't real to fill in the gaps of your ignorance and fear, and we need to get that sorted out right away before you do something stupid.

Strange. I would think that a free society would be one that cannot assume, based on a person's private thoughts, that said person would "do something stupid." Nor, for that matter, would a free society be one where people may be investigated based on the private, groundless suspicions of others. A free society is not one that seeks to deal with every paranoid instance of its members' private thoughts.

Now, if I periodically saw other peoples' crying children leave the individual's house, or saw illegal child porn on display after being invited into their house, I certainly would have an obligation to have this "sorted out right away." Fact is, people have groundless suspicions about things every day, and a society with the right to get to the bottom of every such suspicion - even when the suspicious person understands that there is no tangible certainty - is the opposite of free.

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

JimDaGeek (983925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550309)

Privacy has no place in a free society.
You are right. So please post your real home phone number and real home address along with your full legal name. :-)

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550623)

I can't. This isn't a free and open society. If I just opened myself up now, alone, I would be subjected to attack on the basis of trivialities, and though I am no less moral than any of you, your feet of clay would remain hidden while mine were revealed.

These things must be done systematically. It must be a sea-change that affects everyone. I will support that sea change and participate in it willingly, but I'm not opening myself up all alone and being the target of our societies most corrupt elements, those who have the most to lose from what I'm proposing.

Or to put it another way, I'll happily reveal that I smoked pot back in the day when your minister is obligated to also reveal that he too smoked pot back in the day. Then we can all be safe, we can all get over this smoking pot business and focus on something more important.

Re:Serving the summons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19550975)

Did someone beat you up when you were a kid? Or are you still a kid? Be honest. Are you being bullied every day? Do they beat the hell out of you? Humiliate you? Do they shit on your face?

Is that why you're so bitter?

Re:Serving the summons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549937)

Many states allow summons to be served in Newspapers if they are unable to serve you in person. I had a case involving an auto accident, and the people that were sueing the insurance company for additional personal injury monies had a lawyer. Said lawyer advised that they were unable to serve me by normal means (for a witness spot no less) when they never actually attempted to contact me, nor from the Sheriffs department ever filed to have papers served to me. Still they managed to get a judge to allow them to serve me through the Denver Post Newspaper. They take out an ad, namely personal in the paper and it says on the oder of X of Y is now served notice to appear in court on day W in regards to this.

If you don't show, well then now you're at fault no matter what.

Re:Serving the summons? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549407)

Dear Republican Scum,

You fools owe the liberals for everything you have. The great achievements in human history were all done by liberals. In fact, conservatives fought these liberals, because conservatives are for the "status quo." Liberals are all about growing in new directions.

We liberals said the Earth was round. You didn't believe us. We said the Earth was not the center of the universe. You excommunicated us. We said there were dinosaurs. You said it was a hoax. We said there were cavemen. You still don't have an answer for that one. We liberals said women and blacks deserved to be equal members of society. You conservatives fought us, and killed many of us.

We are the great painters, comedians, writers, playwrights, poets, songwriters, scientists, and lovers. Name me one conservative legend in human history who was regarded as a good person. Just one. You can't, can you? There are no conservative Mozarts - only Salieris. We had MLK. You had Bull Connor. We had Picasso, Warhol, Dali, Da Vinci, Michelangelo. You would have hung a few of these guys for being gay. Where are your artists? You have nothing. No artists. Because you conservatives are not creators. You are destroyers.

All of Silicon Valley and most of Wall Street is center-left liberals and progressives. The blue states in this country account for most of the country's wealth. We have Harvard and the Ivy League. Where are the great conservative colleges? University of Texas? Name the great cities of the world that are known for being conservative? London, Paris, Rome? Anyone?

You conservatives have been a drag on human development since the very beginning. Since Cain (the conservative, always trying to please Daddy) and Abel (the good son, the open-minded son). When you conservatives ruled the world, you hijacked Christianity and turned it into a ritualistic mega-church with a standing army. You massacred millions. There is a reason why that era was called the Dark Ages.

We liberals countered with the Enlightenment. The Renaissance. It is a fact that all the writers, all the artists, all the great men to come from this era were liberals. Many were seen as enemies of the Church and State. But as always, we liberals brought you conservative fools out of the darkness. We dragged you out, kicking and screaming, as usual.

We showed you the wonders of evolution, of science, and you hate us. We are showing you the miracle of stem cell research, the promise that it has, and you want to shut it down. We have showed you the dangers of global warming, whether it's man made or not - and you still refuse to believe.

We tried to free the slaves. And you fought us. We crafted the world you Republicans live in. Your 40 hour work week, getting paid for overtime, no child labor, Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid... We created all of it. We created the very world you live in. The art you see, the movies you love, words on the page that stir your heart. And still you fight us.

You Republican fools would let a simple TV ad stop you from purchasing a product that would probably benefit you. As usual, you cut off your nose to spite your face. Typical. But completely expected. After all, when your heroes are Hannity and Limbaugh and Beck, you must live a sad, hateful life. Anti-everything that makes sense - and pro-everything that doesn't make sense.

I guess that's why you fools support this war, even though it makes us less safe. We're fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them over here! Genius.

So, continue to hate the liberals and progressives among you. Just be sure to step out of the way as we lead humanity into this next century. Oh, and hate Steve Jobs and Bill Gates - two of the people responsible for you even typing on your computer. By the way, they're both big-time liberals.

Love,
The Liberals

Re:Serving the summons? (1, Insightful)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549435)

We tried to free the slaves. And you fought us.

Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, dumbass.

Re:Serving the summons? (0, Offtopic)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549467)

Shhh....don't feed the trolls, it only makes them hungrier.

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

beady (710116) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549639)

You forgot Poland!

Republican then != Republican now

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

bytesex (112972) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549667)

Not to nitpick, but wasn't that during a time when die-hard conservatives associated themselves more with the democratic party ?

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

redcane (604255) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549939)

Also not for the status quo, so more likely to be a liberal than a conservative, depending on your definitions.

Re:Serving the summons? (0, Offtopic)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550007)

Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, dumbass.

he was also a liberal in the most meaningful and classic sense.

How do you think Lincoln would have fared in the GOP of today? FIrst of all, he couldn't have raised 100mil, so he'd never have gotten the least bit of Republican attention. They'd also have had a problem with that whole "honest" business. Not a core GOP value.

I'm pretty sure that FDR would still be welcome in today's Democratic Party. Lincoln wouldn't last 5 minutes in today's GOP.

Re:Serving the summons? (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550897)

How do you think Lincoln would have fared in the GOP of today? FIrst of all, he couldn't have raised 100mil, so he'd never have gotten the least bit of Republican attention. They'd also have had a problem with that whole "honest" business. Not a core GOP value.

Yeah but they've really have liked his suspension-of-habeas-corpus thing.

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

sveinungkv (793083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549941)

We liberals said the Earth was round. You didn't believe us.

Check your facts. You are repeating an urban legend. (created by Washington Irving [wikipedia.org] in The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus)

Re:Serving the summons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549603)

They shoud be able to find pauliewalnuts. He lives in a condo in New Jersey

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

Azathfeld (725855) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550061)

Serve the subpoena on the message boards, then get a court order to force the web site to track IP logs accessing that page. Associate the IPs with individuals, and you can prove that they have received the summons.

It's not foolproof; it won't catch people with dynamic IPs. But it will prove that the document was "served" to them, in both the legal and computing senses of the word.

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549333)

Thats not the way the law works. When you piss me off I sue you and anyone else even remotely connected to the 'incident'. Should these claims be proven libelous all the pressure falls on the administrator because they are actually known. So the court awards in my favour and the buck for liability stops with the administrator who now is highly motivated to find out who the original posters were so he can pass on the bad news and will be wasting no time in logging IP addresses from that point forward and also removing potentially litigious postings. The plaintiffs may not gain a lot from this other than to prevent similar postings in the future.

Re:Serving the summons? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549347)

Depends on the state, but from what I have read, most states just require that the summons have a way of uniquely identifing the person, most common being the name and residential address of the person.
You have had instances where DNA, from a rape, has been used then once the owner of the DNA was identified they served that person. I would guess this would be the same kind of thing, they have filed with the court that they are suing LawGuy69, then they would request that a judge give them the right to identify LawGuy69 from the files off the server. Until they could actually define who the person was they would not beable to continue the trial but at the same time since the paperwork was filed the time limit when you could file would not expire.

It's Libel (4, Interesting)

Erris (531066) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549401)

I can't see how this could move forward unless the identities are revealed. How else are you going to serve a summons to "LawGuy69" and "LegallyBlonde11111one"? The laws regarding serving summons are pretty explicit.

From what the article said, there's a clear case of libel here. The remarks were untrue, malicious and there's considerable damage. It's surprising that people would take an internet forum attack seriously, but lawyers are slow learners. If the people responsible for that little fuck fest are unmasked, they are going to be made to pay. In cases like this, the damage is what counts even if it now looks foolish.

The unmasking should be easy, if StanfordTroll and friends really are law students. I doubt they have a botnet, so they should be easy enough to root out from records the ISPs keep. If they are not really students or are more sophisticated than average, there's a more interesting story here. I would not put it past either political party to engage in these kinds of attacks for political ends.

The rub is not the burning of the trolls but the lack of anonymity for whistle blowers and others actually reporting news that might embarrass the powers that be.

So? Burn the Trolls! (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550701)

The rub is not the burning of the trolls but the lack of anonymity for whistle blowers and others actually reporting news that might embarrass the powers that be.

So you might as well burn the trolls. Those other bad things are happening and cases like this and worse have already been used as excuses to violate your privacy. The rest of us might as well get something good out of it while we work to restore real privacy on the internet.

Bwahahah (1, Redundant)

dedazo (737510) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550817)

You've pretty much given up on pretending [slashdot.org] , havent you?

Re:It's Libel (2, Interesting)

sethg (15187) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550945)

I think it's a safe bet that a most if not all of the defendants in this lawsuit have had off-board contacts with one another and know each other's true identities. So the plaintiff's lawyer can approach the defendants that he has identified and say: "If you don't roll over on your buddies, then two things are going to happen. First, all the damages we win in this case are going to come out of your pockets, while they get off scot-free. Second, you are going to be scrounging to find someone sleazy enough to hire you, while they can apply to top-50 law firms with their reputations unharmed. Are they worth standing up for?"

Also, note paragraph 13 of the complaint: "...Posters can adopt multiple user names and, if they so desire, attempt to maintain several identities simultaneously on the AutoAdmit website." The plaintiffs might be preparing to subpoena AutoAdmit's ISP and then subpoena the computer of every male student at Yale Law School (the defendants' school) who has used the site.

Re:Serving the summons? (2, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549489)

The laws regarding serving summons are pretty explicit.

Better make sure the kids are in bed before you go looking at them, methinks.

Easy, just get the memory (4, Funny)

glassesmonkey (684291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549631)

All the court has to do is subpoena all the RAM on the server. Surely that will reveal the evil do-ers IP addresses! O.. wait... This sounds familiar...

What's even more surprising (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549321)

What is even more surprising is that they allege that these law firms took those troll seriously.

Re:What's even more surprising (2, Informative)

jellie (949898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549623)

Why not? We post disparaging remarks about Gates, Ballmer, the RIAA, or whoever we feel like it. Sure, it's a way to express our opinions without having to leave our parents' basement, but what's to say that some of these posts don't have any merit? I looked at the site, and a lot of it is just racist, sexist, whatever-ist crap. If spoken in public, it's probably slander.

For one of the women (I'm not sure if she's one of the plaintiffs or someone else), they apparently posted the Facebook and Flickr pictures, Facebook profile, and other crap about a girl. They also follow girls around, taking pictures of them to post online. I don't know what was said about other women or people of other ethnicities, but I'm sick of reading those threads.

What about a law school that took those trolls seriously [cbs5.com] ? And after the person owned up to the bad joke, AutoAdmit told the FBI [autoadmit.com] the identity of the person. Apparently someone posted some comment 2 days after the Virginia Tech shooting, and someone at UC Hastings shut down the school for the day. I'm from SF, though I actually didn't hear about it at the time. The guy edited his comment soon after, yet someone copied and pasted it, and maybe called the school or something (Here's the original thread - I don't feel like linking to their site again: www.xoxohth.com/thread.php?thread_id=616215&mc=80& forum_id=2#7959514 ). So, essentially, someone posted some threat online and a school was closed. I don't know why they were happy to assist the FBI regarding that case, yet they're hiding behind a shield of "free speech" in this one.

Re:What's even more surprising (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550083)

There is a difference between shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater and shouting "So and So is an incompetent whore!" in a crowded theater. One is a criminal offense, and the other is an actionable civil offense.

Now most people agree on criminal offenses. It's very specifically spelled out in law, precedent, and even the constitution.

Civil offenses are a grey area. You can take the person to court, if you can figure out who they are, but you can't send the cops to their house without the support of a judge, and even if you've got that, the process is much slower, and any action against the accused offender has to be filtered through several layers, and with restricted penalties.

So I can understand why a forum that is privacy-conscious enough to keep no IP logs would still be quick to respond to a criminal offense, and slow to respond to a civil complaint. The question will be, can you claim common carrier status when you're protecting the anonymity of your posters?

I used to run a weekly newspaper with a free classified section, which, as all free classifieds do, attracted it's share of libel...The only way we could really keep ourselves legally protected was to censor out recognizable personal data, to make libel difficult or impossible to prove. People still tried, but without a name or an address, it's pretty much impossible.

Re:What's even more surprising (1)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550955)

The question will be, can you claim common carrier status when you're protecting the anonymity of your posters?

No, because ISPs generally are not common carriers to begin with.

From TFA: (4, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549329)

The site's founder, Jarret Cohen, the insurance agent, said the site merely provides a forum for free speech. "I want it to be a place where people can express themselves freely, just as if they were to go to a town square and say whatever brilliant or foolish thoughts they have," Cohen said.

Except that isn't what you've created, you naive jackass. There is no anonymity in the town square: people speaking their "brilliant or foolish" (or slanderous and defamatory) thoughts are identifiable, and the repercussions for their actions can range from social disapproval to legal sanction. Blanket anonymity creates the exact fucking opposite environment from that of the town square. What Mr. Cohen has created rather resembles a public toilet. This is the same problem with news articles that rely entirely on anonymous sources to divulge personal details about the subject: how is the content any more credible than the random scrawlings of an interstate rest area?

Anonymity is one thing if there is the possibility of unjust sanction for free speech, as in the case of whistleblowing. But if major law firms are, apparently, making decisions about others' character based on a bunch of anonymous cowards on online forums, it just goes to show that no amount of expensive education can cure idiocy.

Of course, Congress is mostly a bunch of lawyers, and it's fun to imagine leading politicians being brought up on specious charges. Perhaps I'll have a change of heart if the president gets impeached, and the impeachment cites "A reputable source named Sunburnt on an anonymous Internet forum, who repeatedly asserts that the President secretly collaborates with the North Korean government."

Re:From TFA: (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549485)

Except that isn't what you've created, you naive jackass. There is no anonymity in the town square: people speaking their "brilliant or foolish" (or slanderous and defamatory) thoughts are identifiable, and the repercussions for their actions can range from social disapproval to legal sanction.


You are 100% correct. When are people going to learn that typing stuff and putting it out on the public Internet is the electronic equivalent of shouting things to the world? There is no anonymity; everything can be traced back to somebody given the time and resources. If you say something in writing and allow it to be published to the world in order to damage someone's reputation, that's libel. Pure and simple. Hiding behind a pseudonym doesn't make it legal or right. If you can't stand by what you say, then don't say it, least of all in a public forum!

Thank you, we now return to you to your normally-scheduled incoherent Slashdot ramblings.

Re:From TFA: (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549625)

When are people going to learn that typing stuff and putting it out on the public Internet is the electronic equivalent of shouting things to the world?

See, now I just feel cynical. I think most already know this, and are in fact eager to share their thoughtful gems with the world-at-large. MySpace, Blogger, Livejournal, etc...it seems that one can make a fair bit of cash by encouraging folks to seek the attention of anonymous others.

Re:From TFA: (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549821)

See, now I just feel cynical. I think most already know this, and are in fact eager to share their thoughtful gems with the world-at-large. MySpace, Blogger, Livejournal, etc...it seems that one can make a fair bit of cash by encouraging folks to seek the attention of anonymous others.


Oh, I think that people are eager to share their thoughts, but many think they get to hide behind some degree of anonymity in doing so, and that's just not true. If it really came down to it, with the right court orders, I can determine the real-world identity of almost anybody on Slashdot or any other site like MySpace, Blogger, LJ, YouTube, etc. It's not like it hasn't been done before.

Re:From TFA: (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549979)

Oh, I think that people are eager to share their thoughts, but many think they get to hide behind some degree of anonymity in doing so

You may have something there. Even those putting their pictures, locations, and private thoughts on their MySpace page may think, "It's not like anyone really cares about who I am." What they're not getting is that, with the refined searching mechanisms that have risen alongside Internet technology, it takes just one crazy/stupid person to abuse the posters' privacy.

Re:From TFA: (2, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549695)

how is the content any more credible than the random scrawlings of an interstate rest area

There is really no reason to bash our nation's fine rest areas, sir. Since the bathhouses closed, they're the source of 90% of my dates.

Re:From TFA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549715)

There is no anonymity in the town square: people speaking their "brilliant or foolish" (or slanderous and defamatory) thoughts are identifiable

Yes, there most certainly is anonymity in the town square. Just wear a mask or put a paper bag on your head like the Unknown Comic. Of course, if you do that, people will immediately believe you are up to no good. But you are anonymous.

Re:From TFA: (1)

Heywood J. Blaume (858386) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549967)

And that's the point that I think most people miss here. As demonstrated here constantly on Slashdot, it is incumbent upon the reader to remember that any comment from a person posting anonymously must be dismissed as worthless, without regard to how much we would want to believe it. If it's worth saying, it's worth standing behind.

you're confused (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549763)

everyone is anonymous on the internet. you and i aren't posting as anonymous cowards, but we're still anonymous: all you know of me is my moniker, and a few tid bits of information about who i am that i choose to disclose which may or may not be true

therefore, all that is important is the speech we make. who we "are" is no more, or ess, than the words we say. i kind of like this idea: a complete meritocracy of ideas. attaching my speech or your speech to an "identity" won't make it any more or less responsible. so the line in the sand that you are drawing is a red herring: there is no public toilet posting board versus philosopher's lounge posting board. all posting boards are pretty much a special combination of interstate rest stop and town square tha toyu find on the internet. go ahead and view this thread with the cutoff point of -1 for posts. cheek to jowl with some high level intellignet and witty comments, you will find the most utterly retarded and ignorant asocial negative bullshit

in other words, welcome to the internet. you should try to familiarize yourself a little more with your chosen subject matter. there is no such thing as an identity on the internet. it's all without accountability and recourse. which makes it truly free speech

free speech brings out the good the bad and the ugly in human nature. so rather than some rather naive and idealistic individuals expecting that all human speech somehow become only good on the internet, maybe instead some of you, like these litigious law students, need to develop a higher level of tolerance to simple pointlessly negative and useless juvenile snark. it's not going away, no matter what you do. so just get used to it

using your analogy, when you use a rest stop on the highway, and you see the retarded commentary on the walls, does it devastate you? emotionally damage you? no. you just roll your eyes and forget about it 10 seconds later. so why would the snarky juvenile idiocy damage you on the internet?

Re:you're confused (4, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550149)

everyone is anonymous on the internet. you and i aren't posting as anonymous cowards, but we're still anonymous: all you know of me is my moniker, and a few tid bits of information about who i am that i choose to disclose which may or may not be true
Right. Now, if you should disclose anonymously that you have been giving my prospective bosses fraudulent information that negatively affects me materially, prepare to lose that anonymity at a judge's order, unless you're technically savvy enough to truly conceal your identity. I doubt that last condition applies to a bunch of idiot law students.

go ahead and view this thread with the cutoff point of -1 for posts. cheek to jowl with some high level intellignet and witty comments, you will find the most utterly retarded and ignorant asocial negative bullshit

I always read Slashdot at -1, in fact, and you're absolutely correct.

in other words, welcome to the internet. you should try to familiarize yourself a little more with your chosen subject matter. there is no such thing as an identity on the internet.

Thanks for presuming that I am unfamiliar with the Internet, but your contention is incorrect. One's real ID is certainly traceable in most instances from an online posting, given the proper court authority and technology.

Also, we do have some form of ID on Slashdot. Mine's "Sunburnt (890890)". When you read a post and see my ID at the top, you might recall previous posts of mine and think, "Hey, this guy's usually pretty sharp and probably onto something here, I should credit this more than most other posts" or "Hey, this guy's usually a total jackass and is probably lying about everything in this post." On the other hand, if I post anonymously, you can't even look at my comment history to make such a determination. The concept of anonymity can be applied to varying degrees in diverse situations.

so rather than some rather naive and idealistic individuals expecting that all human speech somehow become only good on the internet,

How did you get that conviction out of my comments? I'm a bit too misanthropic to ever expect such a thing.

maybe instead some of you, like these litigious law students, need to develop a higher level of tolerance to simple pointlessly negative and useless juvenile snark...when you use a rest stop on the highway, and you see the retarded commentary on the walls, does it devastate you? emotionally damage you? no. you just roll your eyes and forget about it 10 seconds later. so why would the snarky juvenile idiocy damage you on the internet?

RTFA. The plaintiffs are specifically alleging material damages as a result of the posts in question. If anyone in this situation needs to adjust their credibility detectors, it's probably the hiring managers who apparently take this sort of juvenile shit-slinging seriously. (Not hard to believe, given their profession.)

you're completely wrong (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550607)

Right. Now, if you should disclose anonymously that you have been giving my prospective bosses fraudulent information that negatively affects me materially...

how does it affect you materially? juvenile snarky commentary about your sexuality affects you materially? are you a prostitute? if i say something negative about your tits on the internet, that's going to affect your job as a lawyer?! how?

now let's say some hypothetical retarded hiring manager is just as juvenile as one of the posters, and it DOES affected your ability to get hired at a firm

what?!

they idiocy of one retard vaildates the idiocy of another?!

i have another idea: MATURITY and an EXPECTATION OF MATURITY. that you would would expect a hiring manager to have the slightest bit of maturity to roll his eyes and ignore snarky comments about your tit size. and if he didn't do that, would you really want to work at a place like that? or, alternately, sue the company who didn't hire you! for not hiring you because some internet retard commented on your tits is much more acitonable than blindly suing essential internet negativity. you have better odds suing the rising and falling of the tides, such is the nature of the enemy you have chosen to fight

no, i have a better idea: grow the fuck up. your fascist every-comment-must-not-be-anonymous attitude reveals an immaturity on your own part: a fragile ego. this is your personality defect, this is your character flaw. and we who are secure enough in ourselves to roll our eyes at retarded juvenile comments on the internet will not give up the concept of anonymity for the sake of your fragile ego. instead, you will grow up. you will change. not us, and not the internet. understand?

it does not serve women's rights to empower juvenile retards on the internet. and you do understand you empower them by reacting to them rather than ignoring them, right? every woman who has ever lived has encountered retarded juvenile comments about them sexually. and 99% of them have hit on the proper response to a male idiot's snark: IGNORE IT. repsonding to it doesn't defeat them, it ENCOURAGES THEM. AND it reveals that you have a serious ego problem of your own

you don't defeat trolls by reacting to them, you defeat trolls by rising above them. you don't defeat losers by sinking to their level. and it is a pretty sad commentary on your own immaturity to be so threatened by such stupid mental pap

you cannot control juvenile retards. ever. you IGNORE them. and you can't expect them not to be anonymous. the slightest bit of technological sophistication and 1% more effort will allow someone to post completely anonymously. there are sites that offer ip obfuscation for free. for the sake of those who live under opporessive governments

and that make sme think of a parallel here: there are governments in this world who are afraid of free speech and a free press. who are afraid that anything negative their citizens might say about them represents a threat. this is not maturity, this is insecurity

and it is exactly the same root instinct, that these oppressive governments have, the same that you have as your insecurity on a personal level: the viewing of that which is not a threat to you as a threat to you, simply because it is a negative and directed at you (and is totally retarded)

these women who sue will make poor lawyers, to view as a threat that which essentially is not a threat to them at all. poor tactical thinking for a lawyer to have

it is a skill EVERYONE in life must possess: the ability to go through your day and brush off mindless negativity directed at you. to react to it is have a social maladaptation, and to encourage the retarded morons who attacked you negatively

grow up

Re:you're completely wrong (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550993)

how does it affect you materially? juvenile snarky commentary about your sexuality affects you materially?

It certainly seems to have done so to the plaintiffs, but that's the matter in front of the court, isn't it?

no, i have a better idea: grow the fuck up. your fascist every-comment-must-not-be-anonymous attitude reveals an immaturity on your own part: a fragile ego. this is your personality defect, this is your character flaw. and we who are secure enough in ourselves to roll our eyes at retarded juvenile comments on the internet will not give up the concept of anonymity for the sake of your fragile ego.

I was unaware that mischaracterizing another's attitude, swearing at them, and giving a dime-store psychoanalysis of their personality based on a Slashdot comment were hallmarks of "MATURITY" and being "secure." Thanks for clearing that up.

Have a nice day, you illiterate shit.

Re:you're confused (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550859)

using your analogy, when you use a rest stop on the highway, and you see the retarded commentary on the walls, does it devastate you? emotionally damage you? no. you just roll your eyes and forget about it 10 seconds later. so why would the snarky juvenile idiocy damage you on the internet?

To be fair, future potential employers won't drive by that rest stop to see if there's anything written about you, and use that as part of the hiring decision.

Re:From TFA: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19550147)

The biggest problem is not the anonymous posters spewing falsehoods. There are two sides to every story, people who only take one side and make a decision are the problem. People that only take one side from a random anonymous source and make a decision based on that information are even worse. That is the problem. The media and the politicians would like to think otherwise though and would like people as a whole to be swayed with one side. Commercial and political campaigns are good examples.
When I go out with my co workers after work or during lunch here in the city, we are constantly checking out woman and it typically involves very explicit and raunchy comments about things we would like to do and how. If I was going to lunch with a larger group of people, these comments would never be said or muttered. In real life, I've been married 18 years and have never even come close to cheating on my wife.
We all know that people will do things differently when they think they are anonymous, when they are alone by themselves, under the influense of drugs, or with a very small trusted group. Things that happen under those circumstances are NOT an indication of what the person truely feels or how that person would react in a much larger group or a true representation of what the person would really do given the chance.
People that take information from people in those circumstances and blindly take them as fact are the problem. We can all claim other people are swayed by it and you are smart enough to know there is a difference but others are not but guess what, we here those people. We are not in some mirrored universe looking down on others.

When I hear an anonymous coward call someone a child molester, I assume nothing. So would you.
                         

Re:From TFA: (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550205)

When I hear an anonymous coward call someone a child molester, I assume nothing. So would you.

Exactly. Of course, if the suit is correct in asserting material damages as the result of anonymous slander, then it just shows that the hiring folks at major law firms aren't quite so bright.

Re:From TFA: (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550427)

Really?

so If i am in the town square and start screaming about how you are a crazy silly walking fool you can positively identify me?
I think you do not even have a clue as to how hard it is to identify a person from memory or even photograph if you do not personally know them. Then add in I can wear a wig and a fake beard and even make it nearly impossible for even close friends to identify me from a photograph.

That is no different than right here in the internet. I don the wig, beard and glasses when I use the anonymous buttons. This allows me to talk about subjects that will get me labeled as a terrorist or political dissident.

Posting anon on the net is EXACTLY the same as the town square wearing a wig or other disguise. it is not what you so carefully paint to be incredibly different.

Re:From TFA: (4, Interesting)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550551)

so If i am in the town square and start screaming about how you are a crazy silly walking fool you can positively identify me?

If you started slandering me in public, I can identify at least which physical person is doing so, and probably get a police officer to tell you to quit disturbing the peace.

I think you do not even have a clue as to how hard it is to identify a person from memory or even photograph if you do not personally know them.

Not the point. The point is that you can be apprehended - a body can be associated with its speech. Posting anonymously on the Internet is more like leaving a boom box with a slanderous recording in the public square: while the speaker may ultimately be identified, it's immeasurably harder.

Then add in I can wear a wig and a fake beard and even make it nearly impossible for even close friends to identify me from a photograph.

You must have been watching a "Jeeves and Wooster" marathon.

I use the anonymous buttons. This allows me to talk about subjects that will get me labeled as a terrorist or political dissident.

Sorry, but you're just plain wrong. Unless you go to greater lengths to concel the place from where you're posting, the FBI or Secret Service can certainly find you from an anonymous post if you're noticed and deemed a possible threat worth investigating.

Posting anon on the net is EXACTLY the same as the town square wearing a wig or other disguise. it is not what you so carefully paint to be incredibly different.
I wonder how much time you must spend on the Internet to be unable to recognize the differences between a physical and an online presence?

A Visionary! (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550929)

The Internet: the public toilet big enough for us all!

Could a program slander you ? (1)

cyberianpan (975767) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549331)

Hmmmmm consider say Zippy (the rudimentary Emacs psychiatrist) ... well what if an upgraded was programmed to be rude & offensive... and registered as a user to a bulletin board. Yes it mightn't pass a full Turing test but would it manage to libel ? Who'd be responsible ?

Re:Could a program slander you ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549663)

Zippy's brain cells are straining to bridge synapses...

The web is becoming laden with the same (1)

ClaraBow (212734) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549335)

laws, problems, infringement on our personal freedom as in the "real world." The Web used to be an escape from all the bullshit of the daily grind, and now it is just as bad. At least there is still one place were it has been spared the stupidity of the masses : u****t.

Re:The web is becoming laden with the same (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549449)

At least there is still one place were it has been spared the stupidity of the masses : u****t.

Are you kidding? It's still always September on U****t.

Re:The web is becoming laden with the same (2, Funny)

I Am Defragged (982459) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549651)

u****t
Perhaps I'm not cool enough to get this, but these are the only words I can think of (and by think of, I mean grab from an online crossword cheat-bot), and none of them seem to fit:

UMLAUT UNBENT UNBOLT UNFELT UNHURT UNJUST UNREST UNSEAT UPBEAT UPLIFT UPROOT UPSHOT URGENT UTMOST

Re:The web is becoming laden with the same (1)

Aadomm (609333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549929)

The answer is Usenet.

Re:The web is becoming laden with the same (1)

His name cannot be s (16831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549981)

u****t
ME TOO!!!!

I was going to make a comment as to you need a low enough Slashdot ID to know what U*****T is, but :

ClaraBow (212734) Knows
Sunburnt (890890) Knows
I Am Defragged (982459) Doesn't Know
His name cannot be s (16831) Definitly Knows, but won't say :P

Seems something is out of place. I suspect that ClaraBow has a sufficiently low ID, and Sunburnt must have forgot his original Slashdot ID, and has created another one.

One could easily argue that it's been September around here forever too.

Damn kids.

I 'm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549365)

Sp4t1cu5!

i'ts like a school project for them (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549373)

while these women may be a tad bit litigiously minded, (caveat: i actually don't know what was said about them), they ARE Law School students for crying out loud. which tends to suggest that writing new case law rather than actual bruised egos is the order of the day

hey ladies: random pointless negative asocial retards is pretty much par for the course on internet posting boards, especially when done anonymously. if you post with any regularity on the intertubes, you will get trolled, violently and personally. it's a given. it's just hot air from ignorant asocial losers

but do you really want to enable the long arm of the law to go after those who might be posting anonymously for fear of oppressive use of force just because you don't like what some juvenile snarky dickwad said on a discussion board about you?

in other words, for the most part, anonymous posters are utter losers who don't deserve any protection from anyone. but i'd rather put up with their juvenile idiocy than expose the 1% who are posting anonymously for an actual good reason, such as criticism of lawsuit happy scientologists, or for the sake of corporate whistleblowers, or even those who would expose organized crime (want to be frightened by the exposure of whistleblowers wh oshould remain anonymous?: visit http://whosarat.com/ [whosarat.com] ... nothing good can come of a site like that, ever)

so just put up with the juvenile dorks, ladies, please

Re:i'ts like a school project for them (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549689)

The problem isn't that the subjects of the messages might be offended, it's that some less-than-genius hiring manager might see and believe the messages. You can't sue someone for offending you, but you can sue someone for lying about you and costing you employment.

what did the juvenile snarky comments say? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549815)

something about these women's breast sizes? any company with a manager who would hire/ not hire them because of snakry comments on their sexuality is:

1. a company that the woman doesn't really want to work for. if the hiring manager is that stupid, do you really want to work for a company that puts someone that ignorant in the position of hiring manager?

2. a company you could happily sue if it was because of that reason that they weren't hired. and these women have shown they have no problem suing over little things, no pun intended

They are hurting themselves more with this lawsuit (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549755)

I dare say these women will get MUCH more negative press from this lawsuit than from a bunch of lame anonymous messages on some no-name message board. Would YOU want to hire a woman so sensitive as to file a defamation lawsuit over some lousy message board posts? Can you imagine what it would be to actually have to WORK around her (talk about walking on eggshells)?

Re:i'ts like a school project for them (2, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549787)

hey ladies: random pointless negative asocial retards is pretty much par for the course on internet posting boards, especially when done anonymously. if you post with any regularity on the intertubes, you will get trolled, violently and personally. it's a given. it's just hot air from ignorant asocial losers

Or as I say, never attribute to bigotry, what can be explained by misanthropy.

On a more serious note, Dahlia Lithwick on Slate wrote an article [slate.com] that may be of interest here, about how female law students think they are being denied positions based on these postings.

Egg Troll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549989)

Hey CTC,

You once stated on K5 that you knew eggtroll in real life. Is he still alive? Still trolling?

i have no idea who you are talking about (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550053)

egg troll? i don't even remember that moniker

i might have said i suspected they were another account on k5. i know no one there in real life

Re:i'ts like a school project for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19550883)

I'm not sure if I have read the specific comments which prompted the lawsuit, but I've read many of the threads on AutoAdmit where they all gang up on a female law student. A hiring manager unfamiliar with the sick and twisted AutoAdmit culture who googled for a recruits name and saw the kind of twisted shit that those people write could not possibly ignore it. I would hope the hiring manager would actually investigate a little bit, but it can be a bit hard to verify whether your recruit enjoys gangbangs and crack cocaine without exposing yourself to a lawsuit. One of the reasons the AutoAdmit libel is so insidious is because much of it is, or purports to be, from fellow classmates. To a hiring manager it appears like a recruit's peers are the ones making these horrific comments. No hiring manager on earth is going to just think "oh, it's a bunch of sexually frustrated weirdos making shit up", instead they are going to think "where there is smoke there must be fire" and that recruit is getting cut.

I am a radical civil libertarian, but in this case I can not justify what the AutoAdmit admins are doing. They've clearly got people engaging in illegal (and unethical) behavior on their forum and are not doing anything about it. Either ban them or face the legal consequences.

Phew (4, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549397)

So far, one method tried was to post the summons on the message board itself and ask the defendants to step forward.

Wow.. so did it work?

If not, they gotta try to post the Internet summons in the form of a "IT'S NOT A JOKE. YOU WON. CLICK HERE TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE" banner. Maybe throw in a "FREE TRIP!!!" next to it.

That works. Every time.

Re:Phew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549747)

Unfortunately, the law is way ahead of you here. The case law is rife with examples of service through fraud, and courts have held that such service is impermissible. Of course, it depends on what constitutes "fraud."

Re:Phew (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550479)

What amuses me is that they've asked the trolls to identify themselves by e-mailing their contact information to the lawyer representing the plaintiff. This seems like the perfect opportunity to defame even more people...

Re:Phew (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19551021)

You'd get a better response with a "zap the bug" flash game that buzzes loudly until you zap the damn bug. That'll teach em.

Why would law firms read this stuff anyway? (4, Interesting)

HuskyDog (143220) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549447)

Can someone please explain to me why allegedly prestigious law firms would use anonymous and clearly libelous postings as any sort of basis to decide whether to employ someone? Especially when many of the comments appear to be unrelated to legal ability (breast size, sexual orientation etc).

Surely, if these women are indeed excellent graduates, they will have completely non-anonymous references from prestigious law professors saying so. Why would a potential employer need anything else.

Perhaps this problem could best be solved by some sort of automated system which publishes random derogatory comments about all law graduates. Then, these law firms would not be able to employ any new graduates and would eventually go out of business!!

Re:Why would law firms read this stuff anyway? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549833)

The same reason that employers google potential applicants?

Re:Why would law firms read this stuff anyway? (4, Insightful)

Hrothgar The Great (36761) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550055)

If you were the most brilliantly qualified candidate ever to apply for a position at a big company, I doubt they would use random anonymous message board comments in their decision of whether or not to hire you; after all, they've learned enough about you through your resume and your interview - they don't need any further information.

Unfortunately, in the real world, most people applying for jobs, especially for nice jobs at big companies, have to compete with many other people with very similar qualifications. A manager might see some of these defamatory comments (some of which, according to the article, were work related) and decide not to bother with you because they have five other candidates without that baggage. That seems to be what happened in this case.

I'm not saying I agree with this as a hiring practice, by the way. I think it's bullshit, and you wouldn't catch me doing it if I were in a position to hire someone. It's unquestionable that it does happen out there, though.

Re:Why would law firms read this stuff anyway? (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550297)

The law firm doesn't have to look at the posts for them to be considered.

Let's say you're in charge of hiring, and still have some contacts at the college you're looking to pull from. You call your buddy and tell him that Doe I looks good on paper, what's the story from the school's perspective. You get a long story about various misdeeds from your buddy. Maybe all you get is a cryptic "I wouldn't recommend them" which is probably more in keeping with hiring law/practices. You elect not to hire based on the reports you got from contacts at the school.

You've been above board. You called to check references, got an unfavorable response, and elected not to hire. You don't know that all the negative information came from some rumors or a message board.

Un-moderated board flame war.. (2, Interesting)

Technician (215283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549463)

New generation, next chapter. When I was a kid, the flame wars were on CB radio. Being anonymous and untouchable made some pretty tough bullies who were unafraid to stir the pot and hit below the belt. It has simply moved online now. In the old day, a Radio Direction Finder was the great equalizer.

In the new day, insulting comments have greater than a 15 mile range and are still there days/weeks/months later. It's harder to catch the abuser and the damage is greater. The AC bully is still with us. IP logging helps some.

There is a disconnect from the abuser and the victem. The victem sees just the grafiti on the forum and does not have the advantage of the raw transmission to obtain the source data such as login info and IP address. That is why that abuse info has to be required from the site owner if it was ever logged.

Online humiliation of posting an abusers IP address doesn't have the same impact as announcing a radio abuser's street address. I had more than one online radio bully call my DF bluff and had the misfortune to find out I wasn't bluffing. When that realisation became clear, he tried keying on the top of me. I was very patient and simply re-broadcast when he un-keyed. After 40 minutes, he went silent in defeat.

Unfortunately, the only way to clean up the mess is either moderation, or validation. Un-moderated forum space permitting anonymous posting is a bully's paridise. A flame war can quickly fry the place. It has spilled into the legal system. I don't post on un-moderated boards. /. permits, AC posts, but they are subject to moderation which helps keep the GNAA and goatse to low levels and personal flamewars almost non-existant.

Quick! Hide the RAM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549517)

Before the judge orders logs of the ram to possibly catch the visitors coming back to the scene of the possible crime. POSSIBLY

No logs, no problem! (1, Funny)

LMacG (118321) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549615)

If they don't keep IP logs, they'll simply have to turn over their RAM [slashdot.org] .

Privacy is no right to commit wrong (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549745)

AFAICS, Privacy is a conditional right. You have to behave in order to enjoy it. Do bad things and you will lose it. That's the basis for police search warrants. The same or worse holds in the civil law sphere -- discovery and depositions are frightening things.

The justification for privacy is simple: prevention of prejudice. But it is a shield against unfair blows, not a tank where you can launch attacks from protection.

Anonymity has some tradition (Federalist Papers) and protection in the US. But they are honored mostly because they were "fair and reasonable". Many other countries do not protect anonymity because it has frequently been abused.

Hmmm... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19549761)

So far, one method tried was to post the summons on the message board itself and ask the defendants to step forward.

Finally! Here's my chance!
I am Spartacus!
oh, wait...

filed suit for defamation and infliction of emotional distress...


Nevermind...

Brilliant!! (1)

Stanislav_J (947290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549825)

So far, one method tried was to post the summons on the message board itself and ask the defendants to step forward.

Wow! What a GREAT idea -- why didn't anyone think of this before? Just politely ask the bad guys to turn themselves in! Maybe they should try this with Osama! "Osama, dude, listen...we can't find you, so could you please just step forward and show yourself? If it's not too much trouble..."

Why are the plantiffs "Doe I" and "Doe II" (1)

Vermifax (3687) | more than 7 years ago | (#19549863)

Surely if they want the real names they should be willing to give theirs up.

Perhaps a double standard, perhaps I just don't know the relative case law.

Re:Why are the plantiffs "Doe I" and "Doe II" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19550667)

I'm not really sure why they'd do this - after all, the suit came about because their actual names were used in the postings. It's not like a quick Google won't reveal them.

How good could they possibley be? (0, Troll)

freedomseven (967354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19550927)

So the basis of this suit is that the girls were damaged by comments made by guys with names like "STANFORDtroll" AND "Ayatollah of rock and rollah"? Is it not more reasonable to believe that their inability to deflect schoolyard comments like doody face and cooty breath may be symptomatic of a more fundamental problem.

The fact is that these girls were applying for competitive positions and while it may be true that people said unpleasant things about them in a public forum, if they were half as talented as they purport to be, they should have been able to overcome the rantings of people named "STANFORDtroll" AND "Ayatollah of rock and rollah"

The fact that they even brought this action anonymously shows how incompetent they are. Just think about it. They brought the suits as Does 1 and 2. They alleged that "specific comments" made by these "specific people" harmed them. Since we know the exact user names and exact comments, then it should be very easy to identify the girls by name by simply reviewing the forums thereby exposing them to the same ridicule that they say ruined their chances to get these competitive positions.

Of course their is always the possibility that this is some gambit where they are trying to get a job by creating a legal controversy that they can be the center of. I mean really, what do they have to lose. They either wind up with jobs they would not have otherwise been considered for or no worse off than they are now and the only thing at risk is our civil rights.
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