Blown To Bits

Electronic Gossip

Monday, December 29th, 2008 by Harry Lewis

Bella English has a good piece in the Globe today about JuicyCampus, the gossip site for all manner of cruel and mean-spirited postings about college students. She’s got the story pretty much right — what JuicyCampus is doing is appalling and, under CDA section 230, legal. An interesting detail she notes is that two states’ Attorneys General are investigating JuicyCampus for not enforcing its own rules against fraud. In the aftermath of the Lori Drew conviction, such charges may not be over-reaching.

As the article notes, there are mechanisms for at least trying to identify who posts a message if it’s truly defamatory (which requires showing actual damage, not mere cruelty). It’s onerous to bring a libel charge (thanks to the First Amendment), but I’m a bit surprised it hasn’t been attempted — the article, at least, mentions the possibility but not any actual cases where it’s been done. (Though JuicyCampus has turned over IP addresses in other cases where violent crimes seemed to be in the offing.)

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