Judge Forbids Facebook Users Being Sued By A Cop From Publishing The Cop's Name On Social Media

from the [insert-Big-Lebowski-quote] dept

Eugene Volokh reports an Ohio court has hit a number of defendants in a libel lawsuit with an unconstitutional order forbidding them from posting the name of the man suing them. It's no ordinary man, though. It's a police officer who several attendees of a Cincinnati city council meeting have both identified and claimed used a racist hand sign while interacting with them.

A veteran Cincinnati police officer sued several citizens in early July, accusing them of defamation in a closely watched case that could be the beginning of a trend of police officers going after critics in court.

Several citizens accused the officer of possibly being associated with white supremacy or of being racist after spotting a video and picture of him allegedly flashing the “ok” sign at a City Council meeting in June – a meeting held to address concerns by those in the Black Lives Matter Movement.

They posted about it on Facebook and other online forums, leading the officer to file his lawsuit.

Nothing all that unusual about this. Someone with pretty thin skin was offended that other people said mean things about him and decided to sue about it. That the plaintiff is a police officer is a little different, but not unheard of. That the police officer talked a judge into allowing him to file pseudonymously and place his affidavit under seal is a bit stranger. From there, it just gets stranger and more unconstitutional

This is from Volokh:

I've also learned that the judge has issued a temporary restraining order—without any participation on the defendants' part—ordering them not to "publiciz[e], through social media or other channels, Plaintiff's personal identifying information." The order doesn't define "personal identifying information," but the only Ohio statute that does define term (the identity fraud statute) defines it to include a person's "name."

Thus, the bloggers are banned from mentioning the police officer at all. They aren't just banned from libeling him; even a post conveying accurate information, or expressing an opinion, about the police officer is forbidden, if it mentions the officer's name.

This order [PDF] only targets future posts. That's some prior restraint right there. And while the judge may have meant no one can publish anything like the cop's home address or personal phone number, the lack of specificity allows it to be read as banning the use of the officer's name.

Not that it's all that difficult to figure out who this officer is. Multiple attendees (who are now defendants in this lawsuit) posted the officer's name online and linked to what appears to be the officer's Facebook account. Searching through the defendants' social media profiles brings up the posts referring to the officer by name.

The officer's Facebook page has had all of its posts deleted. The header image has been replaced with this, which appears to be a direct response to those accusing him of flashing the "ok" sign at the city council meeting.

Officer Ryan Olthaus -- who was involved in the controversial killing of Dontez O'Neal in 2012 -- goes by the name "Michael Ryan" on his Facebook page. The pseudonym being used in the lawsuit against these social media users is "M.R."

That all seems to add up to Officer Pseudonym. His lawyer seems to feel the current, possibly unconstitutional order doesn't go far enough, though. The officer would also like to see the defendants forced to remove any previous posts about him. His attorney argues the posts are libelous because [checks filing] they were made by people who don't like cops.

Defendants posted these statements on their social media platforms, accusing Plaintiff of being a white supremacist in a climate of severe hostility toward police officers. Further, at least one Defendant threatened to dox Plaintiff -- to reveal his personal identifying information online -- seemingly for sport. Other posts include, “Fuck SWAT,” “Fuck 12,” “ACAB”, “1312” and many similar statements evidencing the Defendants’ hatred and malice toward the police, including the Plaintiff.

The court hasn't ruled that any of the posts being sued over are actually libelous. So, at this point, the officer has no legal basis to demand their removal. The officer has already been granted one broad restriction on the posting of his personal information (which includes his name) by the suit's defendants. Now, he wants to go even further. And he wants to do it while keeping his name from being tied to his dubious litigation.

Eugene Volokh (along with the Cincinnati Enquirer) are asking the judge to unseal the documents. And hopefully the defendants will challenge the restraining order and make the court rethink (or perhaps consider thoughtfully for the first time) its blanket ban on publishing this officer's personal information.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: 1st amendment, cincinnati, criticism, defamation, free speech, ohio, police, prior restraint, ryan olthaus

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    mariyawilson (profile), 19 Aug 2020 @ 4:02am

    Top Level Cash App Login Website

    Cash App is the best way to send and receive money directly to your mobile phone without running out of cash. That's why the Cash App has become the most popular payment app among people in the United States.

    But, often due to a number of factors, Cash App users find it difficult to sign in to their account. That's why we've come up with information on how to sign in to your Cash App account, and if you notice any problems, how to resolve the Cash App sign in question.
    Login to the Money App via your smartphone

    Let us first explore how to sign in to your Cash App account on your cell phone. To sign in to your Cash App account, you need to take the following steps:

    Install the Money App if you don't have it on your cell phone. Then open the app to get going.

    Once you click on the "Sign Up" button, you will be asked to enter your registered telephone number and email address.

    You will get a verification code on your phone number as soon as you confirm your email.

    Write down the code on the next box and check yourself. If you have disabled your touch code, the device can ask you to check it before continuing.

    You can activate your Cash App Login Online after checking your account successfully.

    When you wonder how to sign in to the Cash App for a new phone number, you need to register first by tapping on the "Sign Up" or "Login" button instead of the "Sign In" button.

    And follow the steps as instructed.

    How to Check in to Money App No Telephone Number

    Most people change their phone number, which makes it impossible for them to sign in to their Cash App account. But you don't need to panic, we've got a solution to your problem. Even if you do not have access to your registered phone number on the Cash App, you can always sign in to your account by taking the following steps:

    To access your Cash App account without a phone number, you need to browse the official Cash App website.

    In the box provided, enter the registered email ID.

    You will obtain a verification code on your registered email address.

    Please enter the code in the required field.

    Now you can easily access your account as soon as you have successfully checked your account.

    If you still have a Cash App Log-In Failure, press the "Support" button to see other solutions open.

    Clicking on "Support" will give you three choices to pick from, Resend Password, Delete Number, or Call Me instead.

    Now pick the solution you like, and then follow the instructions to solve your question.

    Key characteristics of the Money App

    We like the Cash App for a few reasons:

    No charges *

    Funds are available instantly

    Sign up for your free bank card

    Get a free debit card for use with the Cash App

    Buy your bitcoin

    Gain rewards

    Add recurring cash to your own account

    Receive compensation by direct deposit

    Despite the functionality of the Cash App, you can use it for a number of purposes. You may like an extra bank to keep only your holiday money, a kid bonus card, a nice way to actually get paid back immediately by your sketchy mates, just as a means to make some additional money by bonuses.

    No matter why you want a Cash App account, you'll find it incredibly easy to use, highly simple, and 100% free for almost every single app.

    • The only way you are paid is if you borrow money from the ATM (the ATM pays the fee) or if you want to withdraw money immediately instead of waiting for a few days to go from the Cash App to the branch.

    For More Information:-

    Contact Us:-

    Visit on: - https://connect-with-us.com

    Address: - 42A State Street, Albany New York, United States 12207

    Phone no: - 1866-900-0603

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.