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Web Security | Can you be sued for anonymous comments you post on the internet?

Posted by Geraldine Hunt on Tue, Jun 5th, 2012

What are the web security repercussions if you can successfully sue someone who posts an anonymous comment on line that slanders, offends or otherwise damages you or your company?. Yes an anonymous comment! A lawsuit currently playing out in Idaho involves a politician suing an anonymous commenter on a blog hosted on the website of the Idaho Spokesman-Review newspaper. The politician is seeking damages of  $10,000 .

Lawsuit over annonymous comments proceeds

The politician is Tina Jacobson, chair of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, she has launched a lawsuit against a commenter who identified themselves as “Almost Innocent Bystander” following a couple of comments made on a February 14, 2012, The comments were placed on an article about local politician Tina Jacobsen and involved alleged missing funds with the commenter accusing the politician of embezzlement. The complete post and offending comments were promptly deleted by the paper.

Judgement will prompt action in terms of web monitoring and internet security

The newspaper argues that people should be  able to make anonymous posts on its blogs without fear of being identified and subsequently sued. We will have to wait and see if the paper will reveal the name of the commentor or continue to protect his/her identity and possibly bear the cost of any damages awarded.

It is clear that this judgement will have significant consequences for company’s hosting blogs, forums and social media platforms that allow interaction. It is likely that this case could set an important precedent and the results will prompt action in terms of web security and  monitoring.

Should a company be responsible for anonymous comments that are libelous or slanderous posted on forums or social media platforms they host ?

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