Topix becomes matter of concern for judicial system

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Since: Apr 08

Twin Cities

#1 Dec 10, 2012
In Union County, Ga, a jury recently returned a $404,000 verdict against a woman who posted false and malicious allegations on Topix against a man she barely knew, stating he was a drug addict, a criminal and a pedophile, among other things. The libelous comments on the Topix community website were so severe that the plaintiff lost his job and had to leave town to seek employment elsewhere. The poster used multiple screen names to bash the plaintiff’s reputation and also attacked those who posted comments in defense of him. When asked in court why she posted the false statements against the plaintiff who she had only met on one occasion, she reportedly stated,“I know a pervert when I see one, and he looks the part.”

Again as in the other cases listed above, the identity of the malicious poster was revealed after her IP address was subpoenaed from Topix, which led a path straight to the defendants door.

“Contrary to popular thought, statements made on anonymous sites such as Topix can be traced, and will be traced,” stated Judge Thornsbury.“I believe in holding people responsible for their actions and if you choose to post derogatory statements against another party, you need to be prepared to answer and explain your actions because your identity will be revealed.”

Topix.net is a Palo-Alto, Calif. Based Company that links news from 50,000 sources to 360,000 user-generated forums, according to their website. It was reportedly first started to be a community and national “watch-dog” site to allow whistle-blowers an opportunity to report problems within major companies or those dealing with alleged political corruption. Instead, this site has snowballed into a forum for the majority of all communities and towns across the U.S., where local gossip abounds, according to a research report headed up by litigation Attorneys Kane, Russell, Coleman and Logan, who assist in governing and overseeing reported cases of cyberbullying, defamation and abuse utilizing social-networking sites.

Numerous sites on the internet include questions posted by the public asking if they can sue Topix for the comments posted against them on their site. According to the website http/toxictopics.webs.com/inte rnetlaw, topix has basically put their website out there for everyone to abuse, and then have stepped back and washed their hands of any legal action against them, claiming that it was the poster who broke the law, not them. And while legally speaking that this is true, they have done very little to prevent it from happening in spite of it having been a recurring problem for half a decade now. The website says that these comments are not to say, however, that those who abuse Topix or any other website, should not be held accountable for their actions.

The article concluded using the following analogy:“If you let loose a rabid dog in a children’s park, you can hardly blame the dog for injuries suffered without blaming the one who released the dog.”

“Topix knows full well that its site is being abused rampantly but they have crushed their consciences and chosen to only look at the Topix regulars clubhouse or the occasional political whistle blow to justify the site.”



http://williamsondailynews.com/bookmark/20351...

Since: Apr 08

Twin Cities

#2 Dec 10, 2012
[First half of article. My apologies for goofing this up!]

RACHEL DOVE-BALDWIN

Staff Writer

WILLIAMSON -“Some of the worst offenders who frequent the Topix websites in the entire United States are right here in Mingo County,” stated Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury, during a hearing in his courtroom this week.

Judge Thornsbury was using a case scheduled for trial in October in circuit court that involves allegations of sexual misconduct against a Mingo County educator as a prime example of what problems can occur when the public hides behind the curtain of anonymity and posts derogatory comments and personal feelings about a case that has not yet been to trial, and no verdict has been reached.

“You see remarks on this site that absolutely qualifies as character assassination,” stated the judge.“And before anyone gets upset and says we’re all entitled to our opinion and the 1st Amendment of the Constitution protects our rights to freedom of speech, yes that it correct. But – it does not apply to those who hide behind an alias to attack someone on Topix.”

“The U.S. Congress needs to adopt stricter laws to govern sites like these, or shut them down completely.”

The case regarding sexual misconduct allegations involving students under the age of 18 has reportedly become a target for several Tug Valley residents who do not list their names while posting unflattering remarks. Judge Thornsbury agreed to an order proposed by Defense Attorney Jane Moran to issue a total of 20 subpoenas to Topix to acquire the Internet Protocol (IP) address for the forum threads specific to this case, which will be used to reveal the identity of those who made the posts.

“They will be unmasked, their identity will be known,” stated the Judge.“Inappropriate behavior like that can taint a jury pool in the blink of an eye. It’s impossible to un-ring a bell after its rung. People read the comments on Topix and they form a preconceived notion or belief about whether a person is innocent or guilty before a defendant even has the opportunity to plead his or her case in court.”

Numerous lawsuits against Topix or those who post untruths on the site, are popping up in great numbers all across the U.S., with one landmark case dated April of this year in Clarksville, Texas resulting in a judgment in the amount of $13 million being awarded to a couple whose attorney had requested the court to subpoena 178 IP addresses involving derogatory and slanderous posting on the Topix forum in their town.

In Ironton, Ohio, in March of 2011, Ralph Cox, Jr. filed a lawsuit against five anonymous Topix commenters who posted remarks that he claimed defamed his character and harmed his reputation. The lawsuit alleged that the unknown defendants posted written statements on the website that portrayed the plaintiff in a false and untrue manner.

“The defendants made and published the statements they knew were false or that demonstrated a reckless disregard for the truth, knowing full well they would result in harm to the plaintiff’s interest”, stated the attorney representing the victim.

The lawsuit further alleges that the defendants published the statements maliciously and with full intentions to injure, vex or annoy the plaintiff and as a result of doing so, irreparably harmed and tainted his reputation.

After subpoenas were signed by the local judge and issued to Topix, the name of the anonymous poster was unveiled, and revealed that a total of 20 posts under 5 different screen names were posted against Cox, all from the same IP address. Mark Vaughan, also of Ironton, was the individual responsible for the derogatory statements, and following the conclusion of the civil trial, was ordered to pay the plaintiff $250,000 in damages for his actions. According to the prosecuting attorney in Lawrence County, Ohio that assisted with the case, there is a distinct possibility that criminal charges may also be filed

Read more: The Williamson Daily News
Bridgework

Saint Paul, MN

#3 Dec 10, 2012
Is there a point here?
DSM Local

Ankeny, IA

#4 Dec 10, 2012
Ha, better watch out slew! Nice article, thanks Zen.

Since: Sep 11

Rogers, MN

#5 Dec 10, 2012
“The U.S. Congress needs to adopt stricter laws to govern sites like these, or shut them down completely.”

It's bad enough someone had a big enough issue with posters on this site to lawyer up and sue.(instead of just not coming back on to the site or changing monikers.)

The last thing we need is for Congress to get involved and really eff things up beyond all recognition.

Since: Apr 08

Twin Cities

#6 Dec 10, 2012
cantmakeitup wrote:
“The U.S. Congress needs to adopt stricter laws to govern sites like these, or shut them down completely.”
It's bad enough someone had a big enough issue with posters on this site to lawyer up and sue.(instead of just not coming back on to the site or changing monikers.)
The last thing we need is for Congress to get involved and really eff things up beyond all recognition.
I always hope that people will be civil just because it's the right thing to do. You know, the Golden Rule and all that. But if it takes lawyers and the threat of being outed to rein in the trolling then I'm all for it.
Consistent

Grantsburg, WI

#7 Dec 10, 2012
ZenBirdist wrote:
<quoted text>
I always hope that people will be civil just because it's the right thing to do. You know, the Golden Rule and all that. But if it takes lawyers and the threat of being outed to rein in the trolling then I'm all for it.
Nah.

No Lawyers.

The Slewer Dwellers of the 10% Defective will always be among us.

Nobody has been slandered more than me by the Topix Sociopath, and I would never seek legal action to make her stop.

I will just keep pleading with her to serve Humanity by seeking the light.
The Truth Squad

Rancho Mirage, CA

#8 Dec 10, 2012
The one thing I have always believed is, you* cannot legislate stupidity. Nothing on topix makes me laugh more, and in a sad way, when some commenter tries to show they are smarter than the person they are commenting about when in fact, they are totally clueless. It's one thing to have an opinion, it's another to think your* opinion is better or more important or correct than others.
*NOTE.... The words you and your are met in a general way and are not specific to you, Zen.

By the way I commend you for attempting to upgrade the forum. When it ran as part of the PP, there was more and better discussions. Unfortunately, it has become the dredges of internet forum's. That is why I 'Crushered' my moniker that I used to sign in with and it is now R_I_P.

Since: Apr 08

Twin Cities

#9 Dec 10, 2012
The Truth Squad wrote:
The one thing I have always believed is, you* cannot legislate stupidity. Nothing on topix makes me laugh more, and in a sad way, when some commenter tries to show they are smarter than the person they are commenting about when in fact, they are totally clueless. It's one thing to have an opinion, it's another to think your* opinion is better or more important or correct than others.
*NOTE.... The words you and your are met in a general way and are not specific to you, Zen.
By the way I commend you for attempting to upgrade the forum. When it ran as part of the PP, there was more and better discussions. Unfortunately, it has become the dredges of internet forum's. That is why I 'Crushered' my moniker that I used to sign in with and it is now R_I_P.
Always nice to hear from you in any incarnation. I trust you to kindly clue me in when you see me cluelessly coming off in such a way.
Amused Slew

Seattle, WA

#10 Dec 10, 2012
1 murderer eyes
2 special rights
3 dumb biases/monikers
DSM Local

Ankeny, IA

#11 Dec 10, 2012
I for one am against internet regulations... you know if you don't like it get out of the kitchen and all..just sayin...
Amused Slew

Seattle, WA

#12 Dec 11, 2012
Since you're libeled a lot, it figures, right ???

Btw- You're welcome for the stock tip that made 40% in a month !! Oh, you didn't buy any ??? LMAOROTFU~!

Since: Sep 11

Rogers, MN

#13 Dec 11, 2012
ZenBirdist wrote:
<quoted text>
I always hope that people will be civil just because it's the right thing to do. You know, the Golden Rule and all that. But if it takes lawyers and the threat of being outed to rein in the trolling then I'm all for it.
If that will keep Congress from getting involved, I wholeheartedly agree. I still reserve the right to think the people suing are weenies though. But it will not stop the trolls. Only line the pockets of lawyers.
Amused Slew

Seattle, WA

#14 Dec 11, 2012
From a REAL TROLL ! LMAOROTFu~!

Like that rethuglican't love for your fellow man... LMAOROTFu~!
Miss Piggy

Minneapolis, MN

#15 Dec 11, 2012
The big difference between Mr. Cox's case and the trolling that is so prevalent here is that his real name was used, it was a small town where everyone knew him, and he was actually harmed by the abuse.
If we don't like being insulted by a moronic Slewer Rat, we can just turn off our computers. LMFAO!!!
Amused Slew

Seattle, WA

#16 Dec 11, 2012
Turn me off, you missed the stock tip, so we're SURE you're stupid.... LMAOROTFU~!
Bob Schmahl

Minneapolis, MN

#17 Dec 11, 2012
Amused Slew wrote:
Turn me off, you missed the stock tip, so we're SURE you're stupid.... LMAOROTFU~!
Do you have an attorney?
Consistent

Grantsburg, WI

#18 Dec 11, 2012
Bob Schmahl wrote:
<quoted text>
Do you have an attorney?
She is an Attorney!

And a World Class Stock Trader, A Brain Surgeon, A DOJO in the Sky Martial Artist, The Perfect Daughter, A Horse Whisperer, A Nobel Prize Winning Spell Checker, The Best Cellmate in the history of the Seattle West Insane Asylum, An Underwear Model with perfect legs, An Adviser to Kings, a Confidant of Presidents, and...... an all around well balanced person in spite of her superior talents.
Amused Slew

Seattle, WA

#19 Dec 11, 2012
DO you have a brain ?
Amused Slew

Seattle, WA

#20 Dec 11, 2012
Thanks con, but as usual you write nonsense from a moron/drunks perspective... As for my talents, I get by and you lie...

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