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  1. #1
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    Lawsuit targets anonymous online comments

    Mods, not sure where to post this so I put it here.

    Hundreds of people who posted their opinions of a sexual assault trial in an online forum are now the targets of a lawsuit.

    The authors of those comments on the Topix.com Web site thought they were anonymous, but this week, a judge ruled their names should be revealed.

    Mark and Rhonda Lesher lived quietly in Northeast Texas; Mark practiced law, Rhonda ran a beauty salon.

    Then, last year, a woman accused the couple along with another man of sexually assaulting her. That's when the anonymous comments started appearing on Topix.com.

    An estimated 1,700 statements were too graphic to be included in this story, going far beyond the criminal charges.

    "They were perverted, sick, vile, inhumane accusations," said Mark Lesher in a telephone interview from Clarksville, Texas.

    The Leshers' attorney, William Pieratt Demond, labeled the comments "a form of persecution."

    Last month, the couple got their day in court. A jury found the Leshers, along with their alleged accomplice, not guilty. But in the online Topix forum, it seemed, the trial had no end.

    "It just ... basically made us both feel like common criminals," Lesher said. "It's like someone had basically raped us of our reputation and our standing in the community over and over and over again."

    And so this month, the Leshers sued 178 anonymous posters on Topix.com. A Tarrant County judge ordered Topix to turn over potentially identifying information about the users listed in the lawsuit.. Topix has until March 6 to comply with the ruling.

    "We do not just give up people's privacy," said Topix CEO Chris Tolles. "We're very, very careful about that."

    But Tolles said the Topix discussions are not necessarily a license to run people through the mud. "If there is a line that's been crossed from a libel standpoint and it seems reasonable we do, in fact, cooperate with the courts."

    This lawsuit was brought in Tarrant County because it appears at least one anonymous poster lives here.

    Internet libel suits have had success in the past. A few years ago a North Dakota professor was awarded $3 million over claims a student Web site defamed him.

    http://www.wfaa.com/sharedcontent/dw....282b808c.html


    I thought this was very interesting. I have seen some pretty horrid comments on websites. Thank goodness this one is moderated so well!
    "Three things in human life are important: The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind." ~ Henry James

  2. #2
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    Yes and anonymous is not soooooooooooo anonymous !

    So someone just started accusing this couple of sexually assaulting them ? out of nowhere ?

  3. #3
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    Just another reason to thank God for Websleuths and the standards that are set in place for all posters.
    Justice For Caylee Marie

  4. #4
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    Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. Buddha
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    This is very interesting.

    If any of you have ever been to topix you know there is zero moderation. It is so out of control and obscene that I do not understand why people bother to go there.

    Thank you for your kind words about the moderating. We do are best. It can be a difficult line to tow between freedom of speech and letting people post whatever they want.

    That's why we make it really clear on our TOS that the poster is 100% responsible for all of their posts.
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  5. #5
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    Sep 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tricia View Post
    This is very interesting.

    If any of you have ever been to topix you know there is zero moderation. It is so out of control and obscene that I do not understand why people bother to go there.

    Thank you for your kind words about the moderating. We do are best. It can be a difficult line to tow between freedom of speech and letting people post whatever they want.

    That's why we make it really clear on our TOS that the poster is 100% responsible for all of their posts.
    I too appreciate the moderating in this forum, as well as the TOS and recognition that each individual poster is responsible for their own posts and opinions.

    Russell
    Even chaos is well patterned.

  6. #6
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    Oct 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by mydailyopinions View Post
    Just another reason to thank God for Websleuths and the standards that are set in place for all posters.
    Thank God for that!!!

  7. #7
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    As an after thought, I wonder if any of the anonymous individuals being sued were intentionally provoked by other anonymous posters, essentially setting them up for the law suit? This could be a very interesting case, at least from a legal/free speech perspective. Are all posters going to be identified? Seems that the context of the questionable posts would become very relevant, opening up the entire rationale for each post to be considered, not only what was poster actually said but what the poster meant. If it proceeds to trail, I think it will be one big mess ... essentially a win-win type case for the attorneys and media.

    Just my thoughts and opinions,
    Russell
    Even chaos is well patterned.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by adnoid View Post
    Could be, but the control of that situation is 100% in the court of the "provokee". If you tend to loose your temper easily in ANY situation, not just on line, your life will be a difficult one and you will have to live with the consequences.

    Speak in haste, repent at leisure.
    Regarding provokers (those provoking) and provokes (those provoked), having worked with many criminals, psychopaths and otherwise, I learned over the time of my own circumstance, that the more sophisticated and manipulative of them, street-wise or academic or corporate or governmental, turned provocations into an art form both eliciting provocations and delivering them. In any case, I would find a jury trial on this matter most interesting, exploitive, and destructive of free speech.

    Opinions only,
    Russell
    Even chaos is well patterned.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2003
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    14,189
    I wonder what the story was in this case, what happened. There was a trial, so there must have been some sort of evidence to even charge the people in the first place.

  10. #10
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    Aug 2008
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    http://www.rrpolitics.org/#Current%20Editorial

    Here's more info from Red River County


  11. #11
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    Online Forum posters sued

    I can only hope this gets thrown out of court:

    http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcont....2bd48105.html

  12. #12
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    There is already a thread about this

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JaneInOz View Post
    There is already a thread about this
    thanks, Jane! I thought this was a new story since it was in Dallas Morning News online today. (neighboring county.)
    to me.

  14. #14
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    Nov 2008
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    Ill try and find it - i know I commented in there about anon not being so anon !! lol

  15. #15
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    Jul 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by mydailyopinions View Post
    Just another reason to thank God for Websleuths and the standards that are set in place for all posters.

    That is so right!

    ..............I do try to behave, of course!
    Thoughts and prayers for the people of Paris and all of France!

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