Feeds

Defamation lawsuit seeks to unmask anonymous cowards

Server logs? what server logs?

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

They should've known better than to flame law students.

Two female law students at Yale University have filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Connecticut against an operator and several anonymous users of AutoAdmit.com - "the most prestigious college discussion board in the world," according to its own billing. The plaintiffs in the suit allege that some less-than-prestigious lewd comments and sexual threats directed at them by the anonymous users caused them psychological and economic injury, including the loss of a summer job.

Autoadmit.com allows users to post anonymously, and does not retain IP addresses for its users. It does require a valid email address in order to register, however. The operators of the site, citing First Amendment principles, usually refuse to modify or delete offensive threads.

This policy of not deleting threads regardless of their content has give rise to a good deal of controversy concerning racist and sexist postings to the site prior to the lawsuit, including a write-up in the Washington Post.

The plaintiffs - who, ironically enough, have sued anonymously - allege that the offensive posts directed at them began soon after one of the plaintiffs, labelled "Doe I" received her acceptance to Yale Law School.

Shortly thereafter, she received word that someone claiming to be a classmate of hers at Stanford undergrad had begun a thread warning Yale Law about a "Stupid Bitch" about to enter with the class of 2008. The comments quickly went downhill from there, with some posters expressing intent to force themselves on her sexually, and others alleging that she suffered from sexually transmitted diseases.

The posts continued down this path, eventually claiming that the plaintiff was having an affair with the Dean of Admissions at Yale Law School, had bribed her way into the school, and had sexually assaulted her co-plaintiff in this case.

That other plaintiff, known throughout the complaint as "Doe II," allegedly suffered financial and emotional damage as a result of sexually explicit descriptions of her anatomy and sexual activities, and a few suggestions by users of their intent to rape her.

The plaintiffs claim that the comments on the website caused emotional distress and insomnia and interfered with their studies. In addition, Doe I claims that the postings on the site caused her to miss out on summer jobs with law firms, since several of the postings appear in the top results for a Google search for her name, and she suggests that the firms saw these results and passed her over for the positions.

The two Does reportedly requested that the AutoAdmit operators remove the threads and posts, but those requests were apparently denied. The plaintiffs included one of the operators, Anthony Ciolli, in the suit because of his refusal to remove the posts despite the site's supposed "anti-outing" policy that threatens to delete any postings that contain personally identifiable information. The plaintiffs do not allege that Ciolli was personally involved in writing any of the offending threads, though.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.