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This should come as no surprise. It amazes me that people can get so wrapped up in an online world that they forget what reality is. On a message board you can report or block people, on Facebook you have control over your "friends" and who see what you post, on YouTube you can turn off allowing people to comment on your videos. The people of the world just want someone else to protect them. The zombie apocalypse is not coming folks. It is already here. YOU are the zombies.
Something to think about is that in the traditional world of journalism, you do not have the right to attack people anonymously either, and the publication medium could be sued for printing what you wrote. If I were to write a libelous letter to the editor in my local newspaper, and the newspaper were to print it, the newspaper could be sued along with me. The idea that someone could anonymously post outrageous lies attacking someone's reputation and livelihood and hide behind that anonymity does bother me. You will notice that my name full name is in my signature line. I have no qualms about that, because I am not going to post that kind of libelous crap.
With journalism if the article was done with "absance of malice" there was no liability. WHy should personal posts be any different. I have no problem with a message board giving out my name to authorities if requested. Like John said, you are not going to see me making malicious posts.
With journalism if the article was done with "absance of malice" there was no liability.
Originally Posted by HowardE
Remember... If it's true, it's not libel
As a former journalism teacher who had to teach libel laws, I assure you that neither of the above is absolutely true.
The concept of malice is complicated, and something can be libelous without malice attached.
In contrast, if you print something that is totally true and do it maliciously with the intent to harm the reputation of the individual, it can under a number of circumstances be libelous. This is generally true when the publication of that truth serves no public serves and only holds the individual to ridicule. For example, if I learned that my neighbor was a bed wetter as a child and published that information, it could be libelous even if true. Public figures are generally fair game, but private citizens are usually provided protection from libel laws in such cirumstances.
As with most legal issues, I'm always amazed that people provide legal opinions without, perhaps, the necessary caveats -- for rarely is there a legal issue that is absolute.
For example, the notion of defamation, libel or slander may vary (and does vary) significantly by jurisdiction. In the United States, pretty much alone in the world, the First Amendment of the Federal Constitution (along with State Constitutional provisions) significantly impacts this area of law, unlike other common law jurisdictions, such as the UK.
In the USofA, unlike the rest of the common law countries, "Truth is an absolute defense" to a defamation claim and has been since the late 1700s. The modern interpretation of that old rule is even broader in that the statements just need to be "substantially true" for the absolute defense to be sustained.
This has nothing to do with the Sullivan rule regarding public figures and the "absence of malice." (By the way, the movie of that title is wonderful and in large part based on real events.) IF the statements published ARE true, then malice is irrelevant, it is only when statements are false that malice, with regards to a public figure, becomes important. (Another "by the way" and this one is aimed directly at Thal, the NYT was (and is) a corporation and was provided protection by the Supreme Court under the First Amendment in the Sullivan case just as any natural person would have been protected. Every justice/judge just assumed that legal, as well as natural, persons are protected by the Bill of Rights. But back to our regularly scheduled programming.)
John, IF something that is published IS true, it may NOT be "libelous" nor "defaming" (at least in the vast majority of USofA legal jurisdictions). There may be some other legal action but it would be hard to square such with the First Amdt -- ESPECIALLY if the publication was done within the context of "journalism."
Probably doesn't happen on ScubaBoard but many sites are owned by companies who use those sites for revenue. One company I'm familiar with owns several web forums that are similar to this one. Simply, the more unique posts and the more diverse the demographics the more money they can earn. Profit becomes a huge motive for encouraging posts. In that environment I often wonder how many shills are hidden behind some of the user names and their anonymity. Perhaps, if people were required to use real names and the owners were responsible for post contents it would generate a bit less income but a whole lot more usefulness?
I've been stalked when my real name was up on one board once. I won't make that mistake again.
Anyway, SB isn't part of the marketing arm of a larger scuba business as some dive-related boards associated with magazines, retailers, or clubs are. Membership numbers, daily hits, unique visitors, post numbers, etc., are important data in terms of making SB attractive to advertisers, and it's these revenue streams that keep SB online for the rest of us to enjoy at no charge. SB's moderating team work diligently to keep the shills, sock puppets, and trolls to the absolute minimum possible.