When will companies learn? Blaine points us to a story that's now a few months old, but still worth talking about. Apparently, two years ago, there was a scuba diving accident where someone died and some others were injured. On a particular scuba diving forum, ScubaBoard.com, there was a discussion about the incident. Apparently there had already been some other somewhat negative postings about the travel agency, Maldives Scuba Diving, that organized (and potentially ran) the trip, and from there the conversation spiraled. The person who owns the travel agency decided to sue just about everyone
, including ScubaBoard.com. For ScubaBoard, it seems like this should be a quick Section 230 dismissal based on safe harbors, but the site's owner is apparently still scrounging up the money to deal with this. Also, the complaint apparently tries to get around this by claiming that commenters on the message boards are "all agents or employees of Intermedia [ScubaBoard's owner], or made the postings at issue at Intermedia's direction." That's an argument that is likely to get laughed out of court.
There may be some cases against individual posters, but the comments sound like your ordinary comment board opinion and hyperbole. At least in the quoted comments, it's difficult to see anything that's actually defamatory. Upsetting? Perhaps, but not defamatory. It sounds like something bad happened, and whether or not the operator of this company was responsible, there were plenty of better ways to respond. However, busting out the lawsuit, suing the message board itself, as well as 100 posters, just seems to reinforce the problems and bring even more attention to the accident and the concerns people have with this woman's company.