Perhaps online cheater reporting websites are a reflection of the rampant paranoia, skepticism, and fear that has unfortunately become an all-too-real reality of our culture, however, they’ve unfortunately gone too far, and now pose a serious threat to your personal and professional reputation. One of the biggest culprits of online cheater reporting websites back in the day? CheaterRegistry.com.
Although CheaterRegistry has since been shut down, in this comprehensive blog post, we’re going to take a look at some of the issue associated with CheaterRegistry and other cheater reporting websites, and how to hold malicious posters and commenters liable for their defamatory online actions.
CheaterRegistry.com was a user-generated content platform for users to gossip about and “out” cheating:
Specifically, CheaterRegistry.com enabled users to anonymously/pseudo-anonymously post and report about catching their spouses or significant other’s who engaged in unsavory behavior. Although it may have started with pure and transparent intentions in mind, it rapidly evolved into a toxic platform where online defamation and malicious attacks became the norm. CheaterRegistry became judge, jury, and executioner for innocent persons and their reputation.
It became a platform for revenge.
There’s several reminders we can takeaway from CheaterRegistry.com’s storied tenure in the online defamation arena. First, let’s tackle the core issues associated with user-generated content platforms and how they often become the ultimate hotspot for online defamation and cyberbullying.
Online Defamation Fact: Persons who defame another are commonly referred to as (1) defamers, (2) libelers – for written and published defamatory statements, (3) slanderers – for verbal and spoken statements, and the less known (4) famacide. Additionally, defamation may be referred to as (1) vilification, (2) character assassination, (3) traducement, and (4) disparagement.
If you’ve been the victim of online defamation on CheaterRegistry.com or a similar website, it’s time to put an end to it today! Reach out to the defamation lawyers of Minc Law to secure a swift and permanent online takedown of false, baseless, and malicious online postings.
3 Core Issues With User-Generated Content Platforms
Simply put, user-generated content platforms are websites and ISPs where the website’s users are the primary contributors of content. User-generated content platforms have rapidly risen since the early 2000s, when our society shifted as a whole away from having our information controlled by several major centralized publishing houses and information sources.
Published: UGC only focuses on content that is actually published online or elsewhere and it must be on a publicly accessible website, such as Facebook or a cheater reporting website.
Creative: Users creating UGC must have put some individual creativity and thought into the respective post or work. Users are required to have added personal value to their post. Keep in mind that merely copying a portion of a well-known movie script would not constitute user-generated content.
Created outside professional practice: UGC is not created within the norms of professional practices and routines, and rarely has a commercial context.
Specifically, user-generated content platforms are used for a wide array of applications, including:
And if you are still having trouble thinking of some of the most popular user-generated content platforms out there, look no further. Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, and other social media websites are generally considered the most common of all user-generated content platforms. Also, Yelp would be considered a UGC platform.
Now, let’s take a look at three of the most common issues plaguing user-generated content platforms – all three of which are fundamental reasons why these sites have become hotbeds for online defamation and false posts.
1. Lack of proper sign-up & verification procedures
Most user-generated content platforms allow for anonymous and piecemeal registration, resulting in a higher likelihood of a malicious user signing up and engaging in defamatory online attacks. After all, if there’s no proper procedures in place to hold a user accountable for their unacceptable behavior and false postings, why wouldn’t they use such forum to push their own angry and misguided agendas?
Some cheater reporting websites actually don’t even require an email, and just have a report form you can fill out on their website. Even the user-generated content platforms and cheater websites which require an email aren’t very effective in their prevention of online defamation due to the ease which users may circumvent such requirement (ex. Using a throwaway email).
CheaterRegistry did have some semblance of a registration procedure and require posters to complete such before posting a cheater report on their website. Unfortunately, the only verifiable information they required was an email address, which as noted above is a minor deterrent for truly motivated and malicious parties.
Along with unverified users, inevitably comes unverified content. User-generated content platforms which tie a user to their Facebook profile or Gmail account are effective at preventing online defamation and false attacks, due to some level of accountability.
2. Strict removal policies & vague terms of services
In order to “preserve the integrity” of their websites, most user-generated content platforms have hardline removal policies, which make it overwhelming for a defamed person to removal defamatory online posts and attacks.
User-generated content platforms are aware of their near blanket immunity granted to them under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – a landmark piece of Internet legislation which effectively pushed the onus of defamation liability on that of the creator, not the website. As such, most of their terms of services explicitly outline their immunity under such legislation, and invoke users to seek out third-party arbitration firms or court orders to remove content.
Some cheater reporting websites don’t even have contact forms available on their website, leaving defamed parties in the dark as how to exactly commence takedown.
3. Copyright infringement
A healthy percentage of user-generated content platforms and cheater reporting websites pride themselves on exposing “perpetrators” in their fullest sense, and allow malicious users to post pictures and other images to identify the “cheater in question.”
Most of the malicious users who are posting photographs of an innocent person or spouse don’t actually own the copyright to the picture, resulting in a severe infringement of intellectual property protection rights. Unless the malicious poster took the picture themself, or was explicitly granted use of it, they likely don’t hold the copyright, and are infringing on someone else’s copyright.
Subsequently, some users have taken it upon themselves to one-up others in terms of revenge, and post revenge porn and other sexually explicit photos of their past partners. Note that laws surrounding the criminalization of revenge porn in the United States have evolved rapidly over the years and as of 2018, most U.S. states have criminalized the posting and dissemination of revenge porn.
Libel Removal Tip: If you’ve been the victim of libelous posts and attacks online, it’s important you document everything. Make sure to screenshot all relevant posts, texts, and pictures in order to strengthen your libel claim. Furthermore, we recommend having a trusted family member or friend screenshot the offensive material as well in order to eliminate any chance of dispute about evidence tampering.
Can Cheater Website Posters Be Held Liable for Their Posts?
During CheaterRegistry’s reign of libel and terror, they were wholly dependent on individual contributors for their website’s content. They claimed that they did not create or aggregate content from other sources, and thus, all information and pictures posted were completely and independently original.
CheaterRegistry’s content strategy aligned perfectly with the text of Section 230 of the CDA, which reads:
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Just as telephone companies are not liable for the sometimes illegal and unsavory conversations which take place across their lines, the CDA immunizes ISPs for the content posted on their website – as long as they didn’t have a direct hand in creating, curating, or editing it.
When determining whether a user-generated content platform should enjoy the near-blanket immunity granted under the CDA, courts consider the below three factors:
Whether they are a provider or user of an interactive computer service,
Whether they are treated by the plaintiff as the publisher or speaker of the malicious and defamatory content in question, &
Whether the content at issue was provided by the website or a third-party.
So, who can you hold liable for online defamation and malicious false attacks?
The individual poster.
However, it’s often an arduous and daunting task to try and identify them, therefore we strongly recommend you reach out to an experienced defamation removal attorney to assist in subpoenaing their identity.
Online Defamation Law Fact: In the wild world of defamation, it’s important to understand the jurisdiction’s stance you are in before bringing a libel or slander suit. For example, the United States is typically considered more defendant-friendly due to its long upholding of the First Amendment and free speech, while European and other Commonwealth countries are generally considered more pro-plaintiff.
The High Cost of Online Defamation & Common Consequences
Online defamation and libel not only can pose serious threats to your personal reputation, but your professional one as well. Below are just a few of the most common personal and professional consequences of online defamation.
Mental anguish, anxiety, depression, & the following PTSD
Denial of job opportunity or promotion
Strained relationships with friends, family, & other loved ones
Firing from your current position
Humiliation & embarrassment
Heightened criticism & scrutiny from your coworkers or unwanted publicity
Ostracization from one’s community
Loss of business, partnerships, licensing, customers, endorsements, sponsorships, & advertising
Other physical & emotional symptoms
Going out of business & having to close your business for good
Ohio Defamation Law Fact: Defamation per se is the legal doctrine that acknowledges certain statements as so inherently defamatory, that a plaintiff need not prove damages (a required element of defamation claims). Ohio takes a broader stance towards which statements they consider per se. For example, Ohio courts recognize the following statements to constitute defamation per se: statements which (1) charge a person with infamous punishment, (2) impute an offensive or contagious disease on a person, (3) injure a person’s trade or occupation, and (4) which subject a person to public ridicule, hatred, or contempt.
Work With Experienced Defamation Attorneys to Removal Libelous Posts Today!
If you’ve found your name or picture posted on CheaterRegistry.com or similar websites, know that you don’t have to live with the online abuse and effects any longer. Defamation is like a wildfire, and the longer you let it sit and spread, the more damage it’s going to do to your reputation.
Here’s what you can expect when working with Aaron and his team:
Courtesy & Respect: At Minc Law, we understand how stressful and overwhelming online defamation can be, therefore, we’re here to make sure every step of the way is a smooth and stress-free process. Know that when working with Aaron and his team, your goals are theirs.
Open Dialogue & Communication: We pride ourselves on open channels of communication, and will make sure to frequently update you about the facts of your defamation removal.
Results: Having secured hundreds of removals across numerous malicious online websites and ISPs, Aaron and his team know who to work with and how to work with them in order to secure quick removals.