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Thread: Defamation, naming and shaming, bad boy lists on websites

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    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    Defamation, naming and shaming, bad boy lists on websites

    Here is a pending court case, the results of which could have a huge impact in the way we converse on websites, blogs and forums in SA. go here. I do not know of any other cases laying down precedent - so assume this would go a long way.

    What are the legal ramifications of naming and shaming, being defamatory, just being obnoxious - you know....... the stuff we do in forums and blogs.

    There are implications for the web site owner, the administrator, the poster and the recipient of the posts. Does an indemnity and a 'we are not responsible' clause in a page somewhere, cut it? Are these just opinions that are 'allowed' in terms of a constitutional right, what if we do not back them up or cannot?

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    I know of a number of forums that had to shut down because of allowing naming and shaming. A close friend of mine has also been the victim of online bullying. The latter opened my eyes somewhat. The power of this internet to do good is awesome, the power to do harm is terrifying. I am not sure that the human race is truly understanding the full power of this monster yet.
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    Debbie
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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    It's weird this one coming up now. I was saying to a colleague on Friday it's been an age since I last heard of a R1.00 damage award in a slander case
    The result, if it goes to court, could be interesting.

    There are some key points in that report that should be noted:
    She denied writing the post but said it was done by someone very close to her and that she had knowledge of it.
    So why is the ex-wife being sued?
    The controversial website allows spurned and abused women to name and shame men, who have committed atrocities and warning others to avoid dating them.

    Musiker said that the website was the perfect platform for someone who wanted to wreak revenge to come up with a pack of lies.

    "It does not afford you an opportunity to correct it or offer your side of the story. There is no way that this website can help people.
    I'm not familiar with the website, but in my opinion denying the opportunity to respond is... at least questionable. A website owner is not obliged to have pre-publication editorial control, so the nature of the content is not necessarily the issue there. However, freedom of speech should cut both ways - remember the Hellopeter thread! If you're going to provide the platform, allow equal access - at least that's the way I'm trying to see this implemented here.

    For members and readers here, please note the privacy policy and general disclaimer are not just there for show. This website does track and collect the information it must as required by the Electronic Communications Act - and this is related to traceability.

    The general disclaimer is to protect not only the owner of the website ( ), but to also provide reasonable protection for the members.
    ...all information read here is without any implied warranty of fitness for any purpose or use whatsoever.
    How useful or useless any information here may be is entirely up to the reader.
    Last edited by Dave A; 19-Oct-08 at 09:56 PM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Reuben] I do belive that there is time and a place for everything,the blog is not the way to get back at your ex bofriend/husband.there is being a better person ,and cut the ties.

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbiedle View Post
    I know of a number of forums that had to shut down because of allowing naming and shaming.
    Was that due to legal action or due to the community disintegrating?

    I'm a member of a few communities for forum webmasters, and legal action involving forums tends to be reported quite well - and all said and done it's rare. I can't recall a single successful case against a legitimate forum website (there are some pretty shady ones which do get hammered - but their problems are not relevant to this debate), but stories of community disintegration abound.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    i am personally guilty of getting angry and writting stuff on forums that when i have calmed down...thought about... not made up lies but just said things that dont need to been made public...i believe we should be able to remove contents like this or request that it be removed.

    this is a problem with public forums it is toooo easy to express your feelings at the time...be happy...sad...or angry.

    it helps sometimes to relieve stress then 2 days later you think what an as*.

    maybe thats why dave keeps me on a short leash only giving me 1 green block...rep power 2

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    Platinum Member Marq's Avatar
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    I'm still not sure how a general indemnity lets one off the hook? Its a fine legal technical argument here.

    The website (forum,blog,site) is just a vehicle to express the thought. I would think that an argument could be that, if your site is moderated or that there are moderators, the words are being processed and validated by the website owner. As the website owner you will then have to show logs of changes (the actual indemnity reasoning) or show that reasonable attempts have been made to avoid general public hacking and editing of articles and notes. If you have logs then we can see who has done the editing. So final IP address that edited is responsible? (But I only added a full stop.....) Or the websites registered owner is maybe first in the queue?

    Then there are those degrees of libel.
    • This guys is an AHole and I have no proof to back this up.
    • This guy is an AHole and I have proof thereof.
    • This guy is an AHole and it is a matter of public record.
    • This guy was reported to be an AHole in the other media and I am just passing this info on.
    • This guy, apparently is an AHole - I heard it somewhere and it makes sense.
    • In my limited opinion he is an AHole
    • In my Expert opinion he is an AHole.


    Theoretically the AHole can tackle you on any of these issues and threaten you with defamation and libel and death.
    At what stage does one stay and defend writings or admit defeat and remove article?
    What are the general principles a newspaper adopts?
    If one apologises - is this tantamount to admitting guilt?

    If one looks at an insurance indemnity. It may cover you against a claim but if it can be shown that you are negligent or have not taken all the necessary precautions to have prevented the situation that created the claim....it does not cover you. I think this is Tort Law......Is it the same...can one apply it here?

    The more I think about this subject the bigger the minefield seems to become and the more questions seem to arrive.

    Is there a definitive article on this story?
    Last edited by Marq; 20-Oct-08 at 10:23 AM. Reason: spelling

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    I was very sorry to see the suspension of the site - my daily dose of comedy has now been suspended - some of the Casanova's and Romeo's featured were really EEEOOOWWWWW!!!!! Girl, what were you thinking????

    Seriously (and as a woman nogals!!) my gripe with the site is that I got the impression 90% of the complaints were simply a case of sour grapes on the part of the so-called "victims".

    And yes, the principal of this site is very similar to a local consumer-complaints site, where one can lodge a complaint for free, no holds barred, Should the guilty supplier wishes to defend themselves however, they have to subscribe at a cost to do so???

    Where does libel stop and "constructive criticism" start?

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    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by murdock View Post
    maybe thats why dave keeps me on a short leash only giving me 1 green block...rep power 2
    I better repudiate that allegation now before things get out of hand and I get sued
    Quote Originally Posted by Marq View Post
    I'm still not sure how a general indemnity lets one off the hook? Its a fine legal technical argument here.
    I think Morticia puts this in perspective.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morticia View Post
    I was very sorry to see the suspension of the site - my daily dose of comedy has now been suspended - some of the Casanova's and Romeo's featured were really EEEOOOWWWWW!!!!! Girl, what were you thinking????

    Seriously (and as a woman nogals!!) my gripe with the site is that I got the impression 90% of the complaints were simply a case of sour grapes on the part of the so-called "victims".
    I'd suggest the disclaimer on TFSA really just sets out the reality of the situation "for the avoidance of any doubt." Can you take anything on the internet at face value? There has to be a judgment call on the part of the reader.
    Quote Originally Posted by Marq View Post
    The website (forum,blog,site) is just a vehicle to express the thought. I would think that an argument could be that, if your site is moderated or that there are moderators, the words are being processed and validated by the website owner.
    The problem there is the website owner or moderator is not necessarily a subject matter expert. They are there to moderate behaviour, not validate the content.

    There's some serious discussion on this at Wikipedia - but I'll have to come back to it later.

    My main point for now is that content on the internet is unreliable - and anyone who believes otherwise is the fool.
    Last edited by Dave A; 20-Oct-08 at 02:54 PM.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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    Gold Member daveob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    My main point for now is that content on the internet is unreliable
    as is some of TV, radio, most junk mail, newspapers, magazines, all politicians and anyone who owes me money.

    also, I think there seems to be a big difference between online comments against individuals vs companies -- I don't remember seeing any complaints against people on hellopeter.com, except where the person is mentioned in relation to the business.
    Watching the ships passing by.

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