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If someone's character and career is mercilessly attacked by anonymous people on a paid internet forum, can anything be done?

Denver, CO |

A person promoted to a management position in a large corporation is having his character attacked relentlessly on an internet forum by a few former employees and a few unknown parties. They are making him seem incompetent, making many claims about his character, work performance, and general ethics. So far it has not affected his career, but it is on the cusp of doing so and it has led to many sleepless nights and tons of distress. How would one go about making this stop and could the forum owner be compelled to turn over the IP or names of the individuals who are doing this anonymously?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. If the statements are False and Defamatory then yes there is something that can be done. Motions can be made to the Court for Pre-Action Disclosure to unmask the Anonymous Persons.

    If this Answer was of assistance please mark it as "helpful." Mr. Pascale is licensed to practice law in the State of New York. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and time-lines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Pascale strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to insure proper advice is received.

  2. There are several ways to discover or confirm the identities of people who publish false and derogatory statements on the Internet. The best course of action in situations like these is to schedule a consultation with a defamation or Internet lawyer who practices in the same state where the subject of the defamation lives. That attorney would need to get more information to explain the law, explain the client's legal options, and explain the costs associated with each option.

  3. It depends on the specifics - truth is a defense in defamation suits. This is a matter that should be addressed to general counsel, or outside counsel for the large corporation. You should not do anything without the advice of a lawyer. Best of luck

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  4. As you describe it, the posts are connected to his performance on behalf of his employer. He should turn the matter over to the corporation's counsel. In-house counsel will assign it out to an attorney with the requisite specific experience and expertise. Pro-active and defensive measures on behalf of the corp will be weightier and more effective with the offending parties than legal communications and efforts on behalf of the individual.

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  5. He has the right to contact the web publisher that is publishing these things and put them on notice.

    If the publisher refuses to take down the forum or remove the offensive posts, he has the option of suing them and the website. The website may defend alleging a number of grounds both statutory and common law, but the reality is they are going to have to give up the identities of the persons posting in the forum to avoid liability themselves.

    There was a case out of New York regarding a model, Liskula Cohen, and this resulted in I believe it was Google outing the blogger responsible for the web trolling she endured and .. being called a skank.

    Bottom line is, you sue the website operator, forum operator and the "doe" defendants.

    This is a public forum. Any questions or answers published here should not be construed as the giving or receiving of legal advice or the formation of any attorney-client relationship. You should consult with a competent attorney in the jurisdiction where your legal issues are pending and get good, solid legal advice. This being a public forum, those answers you do read are merely given for informational purposes only.

  6. The distress is regrettable but the law of the USA is clear. Under Blumenthal v. Drudge and the Millenium Communications Act, the aggregator is immune from suit and anyone who goes after it will pay the attorney fees for both sides. Be cautious. That is not to say that if the protagonist or his company sue somebody that the aggregator does not have to respond to a subpoena but this is one place that simply adding defendants indescriminately will blow up in your face. Be cautious. California counsel's suggestion of marshalling the employer on this is a very creative and very good one.

    Finally, does this forum really matter? Is an option for the protagonist to simply stay off that portal?

    In 50 million years, the Earth will be an iceball. That is often a useful reference point when our environment is unfair.