August 21, 2009 2 Comments
I started off blogging a few years ago. I was never a fan of being catty online unless I associated myself with it. If I’ve been critical, it was never difficult to realize it was me being critical. It’s always been pretty easy to associate my words, whether hard or soft, with me.
If you say it’s not easy to find me from this blog, please note my Twitter stream in the sidebar. My Twitter stream is under my real name = easy. Before that, I was pretty much the only black female student in a foreign graduate program in Seoul. Again, I was easy to find even if I wrote using a pseudonym.
However, online we know a lot of people are not into transparency. There are tons of people who say some pretty horrible things online. Because of anonymity, they’re pretty much shielded from any negative consequences. In some situations, this can be a good thing: corporate or even government whistle-blowers. It’s just that in most, the person isn’t saying controversial things to expose a wrong. It’s usually just an angry person saying mean and nasty things and getting away with it.
Well, maybe not for much longer.
Oh goodness. Looks like we’re going to have to start minding our P’s and Q’s online.
Under court order, Google has just handed over the IP address of the user of Blogger (a Google service) who had posted some very unkind things about Vogue cover model Liskula Cohen on a blog called “Skanks in NYC,” including photo captions referring to her as the “Skankiest in NYC” and a “psychotic, lying, whoring … skank.”
As Cohen’s attorney Steve Wagner told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America today, the judge “balanced the first amendment rights with the rights of people to be protected from harmful, defamatory speech. It’s sending out a message that the Internet is no longer a safe harbor for defamatory language.”
It turns out that the perp is an acquaintance of Cohen’s, “an irrelevant person in my life,” Cohen told Sawyer. She’s already called the woman to tell her she forgives her but hasn’t ruled out a defamation suit. “Maybe if she apologizes…,” Cohen said.
Video report, including interview with Cohen, at Good Morning America.
We’ll see how this impacts blogs. One fear I have is this will only be a weapon that can be used by those with money. It takes having cash to be able to retain attorneys. Average people don’t have those sorts of resources. In that case, it’s only going to be a solution for the rich and that’s unfair because a David vs. Goliath situation can come up pretty fast. However, let’s see how this develops and how it will impact other blogs.