Another Day, Another SLAPP Threat From A ‘Wellness’ Influencer Against Someone Reviewing Their ‘Masterclass’
from the you-mean-your-essential-oils-don't-protect-you-from-valid-criticism? dept
A few years back we had an article about the “The Green Smoothie Girl” aka Robyn Openshaw, who went on this weird SLAPPy binge of threatening people who left negative reviews of her brand of woo woo nonsense. Apparently since that time, Openshaw went down the unsurprising path of being a COVID anti-vaxxer (natch) and more recently had to admit to having lied about having a Ph.D.
Anyway… over on exTwitter, the account @this_is_mallory has been reporting on/debunking misinformation being spread by “wellness influencers.” On Friday Mallory pointed out that someone going by the name of “Samantha Lotus” who claims to be a “Holistic Master Coach and Human Optimization Specialist” was claiming that optometrists are lying to you and you don’t need glasses.
(FWIW, claims about eye exercises preventing the need for glasses go way back — I remember seeing it get a surge of interest about 20 years ago, and even remember getting a book out of the library to read about it. But the science on it is… weak. There are many extreme claims that have not been backed up by randomized trials, and the general consensus is that if (big if) they help at all, they may only help to delay the need for glasses/contacts in a few cases, but won’t actually help with the vast majority of the causes of needing corrective lenses).
Either way, Malory decided to spend her Saturday watching Samantha Lotus’s “Vision Healing Masterclass,” in which she’s supposed to learn how to ditch her glasses, for which she paid $11. And, of course, she decided to share her experience online.
The thread is long, and well done. It’s funny and calls out a lot of nonsense. Here’s a quick snippet of a couple of the tweets:
Apparently, having bad eyesight is just a state of mind!
It goes on. There’s a lot of the, well, typical “holistic wellness” nonsense, before it apparently turns into something of an advertisement for some “essential oils” company called “DoTerra,” (lol) which Mallory suggests may have been the real point of this all along.
Anyway, it’s a pretty long and somewhat damning thread, with a bunch of screenshots and a few short videos, all with lots and lots of commentary, critique, and criticism.
Still, the thread went viral, and then the media picked up on it as well. Daily Beast had a story about it. Daily Dot had a story about it. And, apparently, Samantha Lotus was none too pleased about it.
None of the stuff above would turn this into a Techdirt story. What does turn this into a Techdirt story is this:
That’s Samantha saying that she’s going to be “addressing MALLORY by my lawyers for her intellectual property infringements and defamation.” Now, I’ve gone through the whole damn thread and there’s nothing that comes even remotely close to a copyright violation or defamation. This is a blatant SLAPP threat to try to silence Mallory.
She also sent Mallory a more direct threat, though if it was legit, it would have come from a lawyer, not herself (same thing that happened with the Green Smoothie Girl.”
From there, Samantha Lotus got super icky and stalkery. Mallory reported that Lotus found Mallory’s private Facebook account, as well as her private Instagram account, where she noted that they have some mutual friends. Oh, and also her LinkedIn.
Now, the one complicating factor is that it’s possible both Mallory and Samantha are in Canada (Mallory definitely is, and while Samantha took down her website Sunday evening, her YouTube also says her location is Canada). Canada’s protections for speech are… not nearly as strong as the US’s are. Still, I spoke with a Canadian copyright lawyer who said this likely would still pass the “fair dealing” standard in Canada, even though it’s somewhat weaker than the US’s fair use.
Defamation law in Canada is also dumber than in the US (Canada explicitly rejected a US “actual malice” standard), but it’s not as bad as in the UK or Australia. Truth is a defense, as is “fair comment.” But a defamation case is more burdensome on defendants in Canada than in the US. So, SLAPP suits can be much more effective.
British Columbia (where Mallory appears to live) recently got an anti-SLAPP law, which might also help protect Mallory, should Samantha Lotus actually get a lawyer to act. Just a few months ago, Canada’s Supreme Court actually ruled in favor of a defamation case being dismissed under BC’s anti-SLAPP law, which also bodes well for Mallory.
Anyway, if seeing clearly is merely a state of mind, one hopes that Samantha Lotus might try to sit quietly, apply some essential oils, and… consider that maybe threatening to sue someone and getting all stalkery on them might, just possibly, attract a bit more negative attention to your woo woo nonsense peddling “masterclass.”