Names and certain details are being withheld during the course of an investigation into those responsible for participating in and/or encouraging the smear campaign against Gene Simco by engaging in one or more of the following acts: spreading rumors, libelous statements, slander, publishing false information and harassment.
Help Stop the Smear Campaign Most people who live an average life do so with a certain level of anonymity. It is hard for most individuals to imagine how simple comments or unnecessary hate-speech might affect an individual’s life. But we must all try to understand how the targeting of an individual is not only wrong, but can cause undue harm to a person’s reputation, business and family. It is for these reasons that you should feel inclined to report abuse and speak out against cyberbullies when you can.
Accountability If you have been inclined to “join in the fun” by making libelous statements or simply by typing what might be seemly innocent comments in what you think might be good fun, you should think twice before you type.
Cybersmear If You Dare... But Be Prepared to Pay Ciulla & Donofrio, LLP
Just as the use of the Internet for a wide variety of purposes has been rapidly evolving for more than a decade, its affect upon many causes of action likewise continues to develop. “Speech from a ‘multitude of tongues’ may lead to truth, but it may also lead to the Tower of Babel. And the level of discourse on [certain internet sites] also suggests that fostering unmediated participation may make public discourse not only less rational and less civil; it also runs the risk of making public discourse meaningless. A discourse that has no necessary anchor in truth has no value to anyone but the speaker, and the participatory nature of Internet discourse threatens to engulf its value as discourse.” Lyrissa Barnett Lidsky, Silencing John Doe: Defamation & Discourse in Cyberspace, 49 Duke L.J. 855 (2000). Internet access enables any individual to send or post basically anything the user pleases about anyone or anything. One of the more offensive forms of communication on the Internet is referred to as “cybersmear” or “cyberlibel.” This article is intended to introduce the reader to some of the legal issues regarding cybersmear.
Defamation and Invasion of Privacy will Cost You.
In Matos v. AFSCME, 2001 WL 1044632 (Conn. Super.) (August 13, 2001), the plaintiff, a public official, alleged that the defendant published defamatory content about him on a web site controlled by the defendant. The Court entered judgment for the plaintiff, awarding the plaintiff monetary damages for defamation, invasion of privacy by false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Court also awarded the plaintiff punitive damages on his defamation claim in the form of attorney’s fees. Notably, in considering the amount of monetary damages to award on the defamation and invasion of privacy by false light claims, the Court took into consideration the length of time “that the plaintiff’s reputation and good name were under a cloud and his privacy interests were impinged upon.” Id. at 10. The defamatory Internet article was removed within a month of publication. Id. It stands to reason that the longer the defamatory content is posted to the internet and the more meta tags and links utilized to draw traffic to the site, the greater the monetary exposure for the perpetrator. See also Lattanzio v. WVIT NBC-30, 2007 WL 2035673 (Conn. Super.) (May 15, 2007) (Court denied defendants’ motion to strike plaintiff’s defamation claim arising out of broadcasts and subsequent publication on defendant’s website concerning plaintiff’s business practices); Kinsale v. Tombari, 2005 WL 1097144 (Conn. Super.) (April 1, 2005) (Court found probable cause to support plaintiff’s defamation claims arising out of e-mails sent by the defendant and granted plaintiff a $100,000 prejudgment attachment against defendant’s home); Thorpe v. Infopulse, 2004 WL 1050861 (Conn. Super.) (April 22, 2004) (Court held that defendant published libelous statements about the plaintiff on a web site, entered judgment for the plaintiff and awarded economic damages, punitive damages and costs); Crane v. Northwestern Connecticut Young Mens Christian Association, 2005 WL 1755064 (Conn. Super.) (May 25, 2005) (Court denied defendants’ motion to strike claims for alleged defamation arising out of statements about plaintiff published via e-mail and letter and prayer for relief seeking, among other remedies, punitive damages).