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DaFace
02-15-2010, 05:02 PM
I thought this article was interesting and decided to pass it on. Enjoy.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-met-anonymous-internet-posters-20100212,0,7539146.story

Anonymity is no guarantee in online postings
News organizations, courts finding ways to subpoena people who post defamatory comments in online forums

Jeff Camacho uses an online handle when he spouts off about five times a day on the comment boards of newspaper Web sites. But the computer repairman realizes one of the often-overlooked truths of posting: His identity is easily uncovered.

"As long as the newspaper is not selling my information to marketers, I really don't care," said Camacho, 45, of Cary. "A lot of people think they're anonymous online. You're really not."

Write something threatening or defamatory and the mask of anonymity can be removed. It's technologically simple to track the source of a comment; the more difficult question is when it should be done.

Policies vary as much as the Web sites that create them, and when site operators do reveal the identity of anonymous commenters, they balance values such as free speech, public safety and the ability to foster an online community.

"If people are afraid that some editor is going to look behind the administrative interface, then (they) won't come and talk on the site, and they certainly won't be as willing to talk about controversial topics," said David Ardia, director of Harvard Law School's Citizen Media Law Project.

Often, though, courts can force the unveiling. If subpoenaed, most Web operators can produce a poster's IP, or Internet protocol, address, which usually can be traced back to an Internet provider or commenter.

In a typical scenario, someone makes a comment alleged to be defamatory. That's what happened when Lisa Stone, a Buffalo Grove village trustee, took offense to a posting on a Daily Herald site by someone calling himself "Hipcheck16."

The comment, made to Stone's 15-year-old son, insinuated the teen made a habit of inviting strange men to his home.

"Or do they usually invite you to their house?" Hipcheck16 added.

An appalled Stone sought the writer's identity in court, and a judge ruled in November that she should be told the commenter's name. The poster's attorney has appealed. Stone said she believes the man, identified as "John Doe" in court documents, would never have made the comments to her son's face.

"I would say that he was very confident that (his identity) couldn't be discovered," Stone said.

While complying with subpoenas isn't unusual, some argue the ease with which an ID can be acquired should be made clearer to those using comment boards.

News organizations everywhere are untangling these issues. Decisions at the Tribune are made individually, said Karen Flax, assistant general counsel for the Tribune Company. She said that, even under subpoena, the company will try to inform a commenter before releasing information about him or her, something the Tribune's Terms of Service permits.

Flax says the Tribune has been subpoenaed more than once for information about anonymous posters, including civil cases where people felt they had been defamed and criminal cases where someone may have witnessed a crime.

"We would always try to give time to let the poster go (to court) and quash" the subpoena, Flax said. There may also be instances where the news organization determines the commenter was acting as a news source and the company could elect to fight to protect the person's privacy, she said.

Add to the complicated stew of issues an Internet culture of free-wheeling commentary, and the results can be unpredictable.

"There are purists who think the Internet is a fundamentally different medium and that the old rules that is, vetting letters to the editor should not be applied to comments," says Jim Hopkins, a former reporter based in San Francisco who runs several media blogs. "I've been hit with the same criticism. If you limit these comments in any way, (critics say) you're engaging in censorship."

Those judged guilty of violating a poster's privacy can be sentenced to serious digital scorn. A good example is Kurt Greenbaum, an editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who tipped off the employer of an anonymous commenter who posted an offensive statement on the paper's Web site.

Greenbaum posted a question last November on a blog on the Post-Dispatch site asking, "What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten?" One commenter, according to a post Greenbaum later wrote, replied with a vulgarity. Greenbaum reported he deleted the post, but it popped up again from the same user.

This time he used the Internet protocol address to contact the place where the comment originated, a school. Officials tracked down the poster, an employee, and confronted him. The man resigned, Greenbaum reported in a blog post titled: "Post a vulgar comment while you're at work, lose your job."

Hundreds of comments excoriating Greenbaum were posted on the newspaper's site as well as on Greenbaum's personal blog posts on the topic.

Greenbaum declined to comment for this story, but Bob Rose, deputy managing editor of online and production for the Post-Dispatch, said the paper even considered calling police at one point after the "volume and intensity" of the criticism reached a fever pitch.

"Did I overreact?" asked Greenbaum in a later post. "Maybe I did. I am constantly frustrated by the difficulty of dealing with this kind of language."

Although some lament civility's demise online, Chris Tolles holds a more liberal view. Tolles is CEO of Topix.com, which he said posts between 120,000 and 150,000 comments a day.

"Enabling people to say what they will," he said, "makes for a better society in the long run, because it means people have to have a thicker skin (and) it means a lot of things come out that wouldn't have come out."

Ultimately, Camacho, the frequent poster from Cary, knows some may not like what he writes. Camacho, who asked not to be identified by his online handle, says he'll keep commenting online and defending the rights of others to express their own controversial or silly opinions.

"Whether people want to hear it or not," he said, a commenter "does have the right to say something stupid."

luv
02-15-2010, 05:12 PM
"Did I overreact?" asked Greenbaum in a later post. "Maybe I did. I am constantly frustrated by the difficulty of dealing with this kind of language."


Uh, yeah. Slightly.

mikeyis4dcats.
02-15-2010, 05:13 PM
I didn't know Skip was a newspaper editor. Or Jewish.

LaChapelle
02-15-2010, 05:21 PM
I ddin't invent mayonnaise
but I'll fight for your right to think I did

Phobia
02-15-2010, 05:29 PM
My name is Phil Kloster. And I work for Corona Research.

Consistent1
02-15-2010, 05:35 PM
In other words, someone from here has been posting on the Post-Dispatch site?

Consistent1
02-15-2010, 05:36 PM
I didn't know Skip was a newspaper editor. Or Jewish.

Skip ain't shit.....

SNR
02-15-2010, 05:38 PM
I'm going to murder all you assholes. You're all gay and your mothers are whores.

BillSelfsTrophycase
02-15-2010, 05:47 PM
This time he used the Internet protocol address to contact the place where the comment originated, a school. Officials tracked down the poster, an employee, and confronted him. The man resigned, Greenbaum reported in a blog post titled: "Post a vulgar comment while you're at work, lose your job."


Damn, overreact much?

http://cdn0.knowyourmeme.com/i/9989/original/internet_serious_business.jpg

stlchiefs
02-15-2010, 05:48 PM
Greenbaum is a flake. HE was the one that stepped outside the lines, but doesn't even have the guts to fully admit it. There are various polls and hundreds of posts out there showing that the majority of people think Greenbaum is in the wrong for his actions. He completely overreacted in his move of contacting the poster's employer immediately.

Consistent1
02-15-2010, 05:51 PM
Word is that someone was going to build a suitcase nuke to blow up the CP headquarters. The dude came to his senses when Penz told him that a brick of Black Cats left over from getting drunk and passing out on the Fourth of July would prolly do the trick.

BigRedChief
02-15-2010, 05:53 PM
There is no expectation of privacy on the internet. It's best you don't lie or do anything you wouldn't do in real life, Then you don't have to worry about chit like this coming up.

DaFace
02-15-2010, 06:17 PM
My name is Phil Kloster. And I work for Corona Research.

I doubt it. That company doesn't exist anymore. :)

Rain Man
02-15-2010, 09:07 PM
I would never say anything on the Internet that I wouldn't say to the person's face in real life.


The very sight of Eliz abe th Gro gin sky repulses me, and I'm embarrassed to live in the same state as her.

alanm
02-15-2010, 09:22 PM
I would never say anything on the Internet that I wouldn't say to the person's face in real life.


The very sight of Eliz abe th Gro gin sky repulses me, and I'm embarrassed to live in the same state as her.You made that up didn't you. :hmmm:

Rain Man
02-15-2010, 09:43 PM
You made that up didn't you. :hmmm:


If I was going to make a woman up, it would be a woman that I didn't find repulsive.

Phobia
02-15-2010, 09:47 PM
I doubt it. That company doesn't exist anymore. :)

Nobody sends me memos any longer. Oh, and my paychecks never arrive either.

Rain Man
02-15-2010, 09:50 PM
Nobody sends me memos any longer. Oh, and my paychecks never arrive either.


Someone really should look into that.

Dave Lane
02-16-2010, 08:27 AM
I am constantly worried someone will figure out who I am.

Inspector
02-16-2010, 08:43 AM
Have the IP addresses for all those who posted on the pot seed thread been sent to the FBI yet?