One other reason they can't, or won't, admit that it's true, is that would then give it more public attention and "advertise" the fact, which would then gain even more cord cutters. In other words, it might snowball. And they know it.
These Prenda court cases and their results have become too common place, pretty blase. Now, it takes a lot more to generate the same amount of excitement. I'm waiting for asset seizure or forfeiture or whatever it's called, to satisfy these judgements. Next above that will be any of the multiple Bar associations cases and disbarments. Then the best parts of all will be criminal cases by the DOJ and IRS. How many years till we get to see it all?
Can't the attorney request permission from the court to send subpoenas to try to ID the owners? Subpoena the registrar of the domain name, the website hosting company, the mail forwarding service if that's all their listed address is, the phone company for the listed 1-800 number, Paypal, and credit card companies and/or banks that forward the payments.
Shuler's worst enemy in this case is....Shuler. Anybody who represents themself has a fool for a client and an idiot for an attorney, even if they are an attorney to begin with, which Shuler clearly isn't. He seems to go out of his way to prove how big of an idiot he is, with the things he tries to do legally and in court. And out of court, too. He needs a real attorney who will kick him in the ass hard enough to make him listen, and he could get him out of this mess. But he won't listen to anyone, so he won't even try to hire an attorney, so he just keeps digging himself deeper. He won't help himself just out of spite. Yeah, the judge is wrong, but Shuler can't fight it without a real attorney and he won't hire one.
I don't think Google is actually punishing them for the spam links. They're just no longer rewarding them for it, causing a drop in rankings to where their site should have been all along. The sites are then misinterpreting that as a punishment.
Of course all 3 branches approved of it....in secret, when they thought the public wouldn't find out about it. But now that the public knows and is yelling for reform and lots of the elected officials fear for their jobs and want to get re-elected, they will publicly claim that they want reforms. But it will be the same as all the rest of their security theater: make it all look good (as in theater), but don't actually do or accomplish anything real.
Where do you draw the line with Section 230, tho? With Techdirt, it would be quite simple, if someone posted something illegal in comments. Site operator isn't liable. With a UGotPosted site, it's sole purpose for being is to allow and invite the illegal posts. The site operator might not make the posts himself, but it seems to me he's a clear participant of the posts since he not only invites only that type of post but it's the sites only reason for existence. Same for a "reasonable" administrative cost charged by a site to remove any such post. $25-$50 nuisance fee to the person that posted it, like you mentioned about spam comments? Or charge several hundred dollars to somebody else who didn't post it? And again, that's the sites sole reason for existence.