Once Again: Do Not Send Legal Threats To Companies Because You Don't Like What A User Says

from the both-according-to-the-law-and-common-sense dept

It's getting to be rather silly how many times we've posted about section 230 of the CDA, which protects websites from the actions of their users -- but it seems that there's no shortage of folks with quick legal trigger fingers, who figure that anything they dislike online must be illegal, and they can blame the site that hosted it. The latest example, sent in by an anonymous reader, is that 800Notes, one of many websites that allows users to post notes on random callers (telemarketers and such) discovered that the owner of one company, mynutritionstore, whose phone number was listed on the site sent an angry threat demanding it be taken down, because someone had a negative experience with the company. When 800Notes told the owner of mynutritionstore that it would not remove the negative reviews, he apparently threatened to sue 800Notes. Public Citizen stepped in and sent him a quick legal lesson on the safe harbors provided by the CDA, how anti-SLAPP laws work and also pointed out that his claim that the posts were defamatory is clearly shown to be untrue by the fact that the same demand for a takedown claims that the content is proprietary to mynutrtionstore. If it's proprietary than that would indicate that it's truthful, not defamatory. It's not libel if it's the truth.

So, once again, just because you dislike what someone has to say about you online, it doesn't mean that it's illegal. Also, threatening to sue the service provider for content you dislike generated by users is bound to backfire -- often badly. Hopefully, more people will learn this, and we'll stop seeing these sorts of threats.
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Filed Under: cda, legal threats, safe harbors, slapp
Companies: 800notes, mynutritionstore

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  1. identicon
    The Can of Beans Speaks!, 9 Jul 2008 @ 10:10am

    Re: Double Standards!!

    But i really don't understand why there is one set of rules for the internet and then another set for offline. There are many things which are very legal offline but can be interpreted to be illegal online!!

    Maybe this is because it's visual format, and it's been long understood that "Professionals" typically are visual in their day-to-day profession. For example, one who practices the gamut of law or politics typically spends years upon years reading, memorization, as an attempt for comprehension. As such, being a visual learner is a strong asset.

    However, when conversations are taken to the web, and are presented in a written format, it lacks inflection which may cue a listener in on your level of seriousness. This can be offset with liberal use of references to LOLz, teh interwebs, and various other internet phenomenon which are "filtered out" by non-community users as they do not necessarily associate themselves with the online culture as their goal is to consume, and not necessarily contribute.

    Carefully placed grammatical errors can give a sole "consumer" a feeling of superiority, hence comments about "Grammar" "Dictionary Usage" or otherwise. By utilizing this technique, consumers eventually may seek other venues to leech from. Additionally, names and subjects should be scrutinized. Would a comment from "The Can of Beans Speaks!" be taken seriously if shared with a high ranking director? Probably not.

    Why should a web host be penalized for hosting a controversial comment bey a user?

    I believe much of this is when new people don't adhere to netiquette themselves.

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