After a relationship fails, one or both sides may harbor feelings of anger, betrayal, and resentment. In years past, a spurned former boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife might seek out a close confidant to vent and let loose his or her frustrations. While the statements made during these venting sessions may have technically crossed the
line into defamation, the limited audience and understanding that these remarks were made out of sadness and loss blunted the accusations that may be contained in the remarks.
“Remove My Name and Information from STDRegistry.org, Now!”
STDRegistry.org is a website whose malicious posters can pose a serious threat to the reputation and livelihood of those whom they attack. Posters may anonymously accuseanyone of having or spreading sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). STDRegistry.org seeks to provide a forum where posters warn the public with first-hand knowledge and encourage others to avoid sexual encounters with specific STD-infected individuals who may spread STDs. However, many posts instead spread false accusations and rumors that the poster cannot substantiate. STDRegistry.org discloses that “the information posted is not verified“, but such a disclaimer does little for those whose good name STDRegistry.org posters destroyed. Information hosted by STDRegistry.org is just a click away for the entire world to see through Google and other Internet search engines. The next employer, friend, or loved one who Googles your name will have this information at his or her disposal to read, re-post, tweet, or otherwise share with whomever they please.
Problems With User-Sourced Review and Ratings Websites Like STDRegistry.com
Both fortunately and unfortunately, in today’s world people have instant access to a number of Internet platforms where they can post their thoughts, feelings, or information about another person. While many of these online user-generated review and reporting sites claim to have high-minded goals regarding free speech and other civic-minded concerns, many users of the site do not share these goals. Many use sites like STDRegistry.com in violation of the site TOS to publicly post baseless and false diatribes and reports solely to humiliate and embarrass the target.
Like many websites where the user has the power to publish content, STDRegistry.com does not create or post its own content. Rather, the site relies 100% on users to supply site content. The site does not verify the content posted. The site itself has broad protection from liability because of provisions contained in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that provide safe harbor for the owners of user generated content platforms. However, the individual users who make the posts and reports are still subject to liability for any false, baseless, or defamatory statements or reports they make. STDReport.com acknowledges this fact in its Terms of Service writing:
You understand that all postings, messages, text, files, images, photos, or other materials (“Content”) posted on, transmitted through, or linked from the Service, are the sole responsibility of the person from whom such Content originated. More specifically, you are entirely responsible for each individual item (“Item”) of Content that you post, email or otherwise make available via the Service.
Thus, the individual posters remain liable and accountable for any slander or libel they may post onto the platform.
Problems with STDRegistry’s Post Removal Policy
STDRegistry.com attempts to wash its hands of regulating its site by claiming that:
We are neither judge, nor jury. We do not take sides on any matters that are discussed within this website. If you feel that someone has submitted false information about you on STDRegistry.com, it is your responsibility to take that issue up with the submitter.
Unfortunately, the advice of taking the issue up with the submitter is highly unlikely to be effective in instances of defamation. A person who makes defamatory remarks does so to embarrass or humiliate the victim. A victim who confronts their tormentor is unlikely to get them to remove the post due to embarrassment because causing such a result was their intent from the start. Rather, this approach is more likely to let the defamer know that his or her approach is effective and causing the victim stress and embarrassment. In threads on the site where a victim does attempt to address the accuser, often times insults simply escalate without making progress into the removal or retraction of the post.
Rather inconsistently, the site states that it WILL remove a post at the author’s request, but any removal can take “6 months to 12 months or more.” Clearly, a removal timeframe that can stretch for more than a year is unacceptable and unjustifiable in light of the severe damage that can be caused by false and defamatory postings. It is also questionable whether the site actually adheres to this policy at all. However, we will make good-faith efforts to work with the site to secure removal of the materials. Failing this, we can work with Google and other search providers who have a policy of removing search results upon presentation of a valid court order.
Defamation Attorneys Can Remove False & Embarrassing STDReport.com Posts
While sites like STDRegistry.com and other user-generated sites attempt to avoid removing posts from their site, there are ways for attorneys experience in the field of Internet defamation to remove content. We understand how damaging accusations of a sexual nature can be to a person’s reputation. If you are being targeted for abuse and defamation on STDRegistry.com, call the Internet Defamation Lawyers of Minc LLC. We guarantee the removal of the offending post from the site or your money will be refunded. To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation call (216) 373-7706 or schedule a meeting online.