UPDATE: If you or someone you know has been posted about or defamed on the website TheDirty.com, the law firm of Minc Law is pleased to announce that we now offer a solution to completely and permanently remove those posts – on TheDirty.com – from the Internet. The method is fast, effective, and all for a flat reasonable fee. Reach out to defamation removal attorney Aaron Minc and his team of online defamation lawyers for a free, no-obligation initial consultation at (216) 373-7706, or schedule a meeting online today.
According to David Gingras, long time attorney for the infamous reality blog TheDirty.com, there may be a way to permanently remove content from their website. For defamed and injured individuals and businesses that have been the subject of false, unfair, or defamatory content posted about them on the site, this is big news.
So how do I remove false, defamatory, and other disparaging posts from TheDirty.com?
Get a court to validly declare that the information posted is false.
- The Brass Tacks: What is TheDirty.com?
- Fundamental Problems with TheDirty.com’s Approach to Defamatory User-Generated Content
- Why TheDirty.com Typically Doesn’t Remove Allegedly False Posts
- TheDirty.com May Agree to Remove Posts if Supplied a Valid Court Order
- Testing the Limits: Dr. Dre vs. TheDirty.com
- How Can I Get a Court Order to Remove My Post From TheDirty.com?
- Work With the Defamation Removal Attorneys of Minc Law Today & Secure a Permanent Removal
The Brass Tacks: What is TheDirty.com?
First, let’s get down to the brass tacks and into what TheDirty.com is and why it poses a serious threat to you or a loved one’s reputation.
Self-proclaimed as the “World’s largest gossip website,” TheDirty.com is an online user-generated gossip site where online defamation, malicious attacks, and false posts run rampant.
Founded by Hooman Karamian, also known as Nik Richie, both the website and founder claim the website provides a necessary public service for society, in 2010 claiming the site was “…a form of holding people accountable for their actions.” However, TheDirty’s actual execution is far off from what founder Nik Richie preaches, and presents a high volume of toxic content, including:
- Posts shaming innocent persons,
- False allegations,
- Unfounded personal attacks,
- Ill-advised advice,
- Malicious commentary on persons and recent events,
- And much more.
Immediately upon landing on the front page of TheDirty.com, users are greeted with a prominently featured, magenta-colored “Submit” button, encouraging them to dish on the latest gossip and fuel an already well-established cycle of humiliation, disingenuity, and embarrassment.
Users can submit content including:
- Photos, and
Both the submission of photos and videos open up several other core legal issues besides online defamation, such as copyright infringement. To read more about copyright infringement, you can check out a comprehensive blog post written here.
In addition to a slew of core legal issues TheDirty walks a fine line on, and often crosses over into offending territory, the site requires users agree to a lengthy legal agreement, where users waive (give up) their rights to the content submitted, and agree to indemnify the website for any legal action that might be filed against them.
While it is a step in the direction that TheDirty.com does require users and posters to submit contact information – a trait often lacking in poorly regulated and policed user-generated content platforms – and actually includes a legal acknowledgment, the acknowledgment is without substance, and requires users to certify “that the Content [they] submit is an original work …. Or control 100% of the rights.”
Nowhere in the agreement are users required to certify the accuracy or truthfulness of the content they write.
In fact, the site’s Terms of Service (TOS) states,
“Because they are not verified, postings may contain erroneous or inaccurate information.”
And, through a piecemeal and vague TOS, TheDirty opens innocent persons and their reputation up to severely damaging content and material.
If you’ve been the subject of a false, baseless, and defamatory Internet posting, you do have options and don’t have to continue to suffer. Aaron Minc and his team of online defamation removal attorneys want to fight for your reputation. Reach out today, by calling the online defamation attorneys of Minc Law, for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation at (216) 373-7706, or schedule a meeting online.
At Minc Law, we know how to find malicious posters, hold them accountable, and secure a swift and permanent removal.
Online Defamation Tip: Before bringing a defamation claim, it’s first important to understand what makes an actionable defamation claim. One effective way to determine whether you may have a claim is to analyze whether a defendant has any defenses to your claim. Common defenses include (1) truth, (2) opinion, (3) consent, and (4) qualified or absolute privilege.
Fundamental Problems with TheDirty.com’s Approach to Defamatory User-Generated Content
TheDirty.com poses a particularly interesting case, because it is not a true “user-generated” content platform in the sense of the word. A user-generated content platform leaves the hands solely in those of the user, allowing them to be both creator, editor, and poster. Judge, jury, and executioner.
Unlike most online bulletin boards and forums (including popular cheater reporting websites, scam websites, and consumer advocacy websites), TheDirty.com editorializes parts of the piece. For instance, at the end of many articles, there is a bold text signed “-nik.”
Why does this pose such a problem?
Because user-generated content platforms typically rely on broad immunity and protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – a landmark piece of Internet legislation laying out a strict framework for holding websites liable for content posted.
Section 230 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.”
However, there are exceptions – to read up on some other notable exceptions other than the one addressed, check out our blog post on Angie’s List defamation removal, which goes into further detail.
Most notable, a core exception to CDA protection (for websites) is when websites edit content and materially alter its meaning.
Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment Recordings, LLC
In one particular high profile case, Jones v. Dirty World Entertainment, a Kentucky court initially ruled that TheDirty.com and other websites are NOT entitled to such protections under the CDA when they “invite the posting of illegal materials” or make “actionable postings” themselves.
However, a United States Court of Appeals for the Sixty Circuit ultimately overturned that holding, citing there was a clear distinction between the author of the posts, and that the bold-text sign-off “nik” was to distinguish between “editorial remarks and third-party submissions.”
Simply put, TheDirty.com does still receive protections and immunity under the Communications Decency Act. However, the actual individual poster who created the content and made a report to the site does not receive similar protection and safe harbor.
You may hold an individual poster liable for defamatory, false, and other malicious attacks made against you on TheDirty.com.
If a user’s posts and reports are found to be false and defamatory, they may be held liable for the damages caused to your reputation. But, it’s not always that easy to locate them. Especially when dealing with TheDirty.com, a website who approaches potential defamation claims with unresponsiveness and obstructionist tactics.
In their FAQ, TheDirty.com states that they won’t reveal the identity of users who submit reports and go so far to say, “at a minimum, you’re going to need a subpoena and in some cases you might have to obtain a court order.” Such reluctance and adamance against removal is highly likely to foster a toxic environment, where users are encouraged to post malicious and false content attacking innocent reputations.
That’s not to say the site’s approach to all removal requests is that bad. TheDirty.com does claim that it will respond to DMCA requests, when copyrighted photos and others images are published without permission. Furthermore, they state they will attempt to:
- Address instances of revenge porn,
- Claims alleging a party has a sexually transmitted disease, and
- Work with a victim provided the victim supplies proof such online accusations are false.
It is worth noting that even though TheDirty acknowledges their willingness to work with victimized parties in particular instances, it often requires legal assistance to actually get their attention.
Defamation Law Fact: As defamation claims fall under personal injury, they are subject to a statute of limitations. Most state slander claims have a one (1) year statute of limitations, while libel claims typically have a two (2) or three (3) year statute of limitations.
Why TheDirty.com Typically Doesn’t Remove Allegedly False Posts
I don’t claim to speak for the site, but simply put, TheDirty.com typically doesn’t remove allegedly false posts because they don’t have to. As addressed above, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) provides websites with broad immunity and shifts the liability burden elsewhere.
Once again, pursuant to Section 230 of the CDA, website owners and operators are not responsible for materials posted on their site by users – the author is.
Just as a telephone or cable company is not liable for the communications made on their platforms, user-generated content websites skirt liability in favor of a democratized approach to Internet communications.
Online Defamation Law Tip: It’s important to understand the difference between libel and slander. The general public usually confuses the two. Both are subsets of defamation. Slander is the false spoken statement damaging a person’s reputation, while libel is a written statement damaging a person’s reputation.
Understandably, websites dealing with high volumes of traffic and content may be slow to remove it, but TheDirty takes it one step further, stating they “cannot simply remove everything that is claimed to be false for the same reason that a prison warden can’t simply release every inmate who claims to be innocent. Deciding who is guilty and who is innocent is not a task that can or should be delegated to website owners.”
TheDirty.com is a dangerous website to your reputation due to their unwillingness to take sides in disputes, and overall reluctance to remove content that should legitimately be removed.
TheDirty.com May Agree to Remove Posts if Supplied a Valid Court Order
Again, not claiming to speak for the website, but I can surmise that there are several reasons TheDirty.com, along with other websites and search engines, agree to remove content upon being presented with a valid court order.
- It conforms to their policy: As state above, TheDirty.com, and other websites, don’t see it as their place to play the role of judge or jury in a public dispute. However, without the judge or jury, you’re left with just the executioner, delivering a fatal and irreparable blow to your reputation. But, if parties present their claims to a government sanctioned independent-forum to resolve a dispute, TheDirty will acknowledge such mechanism as the decision maker. The site therefore allows courts to decide disputes for them – so they don’t have to.
- It improves the quality and integrity of information: Most websites and platforms, even ones as salacious and scandalous as TheDirty.com want their site to be viewed as a reliable source of accurate information. If someone goes through the trouble of getting a court to declare such content in question to be false and defamatory, it’s only logical the site wouldn’t want to support and post false information. Therefore, when a site is presented with a valid court order, classifying a post as libelous and false, they will have valid reasons to believe the post is truly false, and ultimately, remove it. If they didn’t, it would undermine the integrity of the website as a reliable and accurate source of information, and open them up to further legal ramifications.
- Because they can, and it’s the right thing to do: While the CDA grants sites like TheDirty.com power to keep libelous and defamatory material online without liability, it also gives them the ability to remove false content without consequence. A section of the CDA, titled the “Good Samaritan” section, specifically provides that websites will face no civil liability for taking any voluntary action in good faith, to remove material that is “objectionable,” regardless of “whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.” On the balance, it’s much harder to take posts down, than put them up. If a party goes through the trouble of filing a lawsuit and getting a valid court order, then it is worth consideration.
Libel Removal Tip: The United States is generally considered a pro-defendant jurisdiction when dealing with defamation claims, due to it’s upholding of the First Amendment, while European and Commonwealth countries are generally considered more plaintiff-friendly. Plaintiffs who search around for the most favorable jurisdiction are said to go “forum shopping.”
Testing the Limits: Dr. Dre vs. TheDirty.com
Testing the limits of TheDirty.com’s content removal policy, was the dispute between rap legend, Dr. Dre, and TheDirty.com. The skirmish first started when posts went up on TheDirty.com about Dr. Dre, alleging that Dre’s wife knowingly allowed him to have extra-marital relationships. Other posts (now removed from the website), allegedly identified one of Dre’s “side pieces” or mistresses, showing pictures of a house they stayed in together and some nice “bling” that Dre allegedly gifted to her.
Dr. Dre didn’t take kindly to the posts, and his legal team quickly fired off a letter to TheDirty.com, demanding the site immediately remove the posted materials and post a retraction and apology. http://tmz.vo.llnwd.net/o28/newsdesk/1122-Dirty-LLC-Nik-Richie.pdf
Rather than helping his cause, the letter likely backfired. Gingras sent back his own satirically laced response letter, explaining that although he is a big fan of Dr. Dre, and that Gingras used to “personally destroy subwoofers blasting N.W.A.’s ‘F**k Tha Police’ in his car in the high school parking lot,” the website would not be removing the posts.
The letter then went on to offer some legal analysis explaining why the TheDirty.com typically doesn’t remove posts and humorously poked fun at Dre’s attorneys claims that the posts were false, comparing Dre to the likes of Bill Clinton, O.J. Simpson and Lance Armstrong. Most significantly though, in the last paragraph of the letter, Gingras pointed out to Dr. Dre’s attorneys a way to possibly get the posts about Dre removed. Gingras stated that if the posts about Dr. Dre were false, as Dre claimed, he suggested that Dre pursue litigation against the author of the post. He then stated, “if a court finds the posts are false, then they will be removed.”
What does this mean for content removal from TheDirty.com?
What this may mean is that TheDirty.com has possibly embraced a policy to remove posts from its site if a court of law validly declares that the posts are false. Such stance is similar to other Internet service providers and websites, like search engines Yahoo/Bing, Google, and WordPress.com. Prior to this statement, it was not clear whether TheDirty.com would entertain or consider removing content after receipt of a valid court order.
Ohio Defamation Law Fact: Ohio has a broader definition of “defamation per se” than most other states. Ohio classifies several key categories of statements as so inherently defamatory that the plaintiff need not prove damages: (1) accusations imputing the plaintiff committed a crime of moral turpitude or infamous punishment, (2) accusations imputing the plaintiff possesses a loathsome disease (such as an STD or leprosy), (3) statements injuring a person’s trade, profession, or business, and (4) any statement availing a person to “public hatred, ridicule, or contempt.”
How Can I Get a Court Order to Remove My Post From TheDirty.com?
The most effective way to remove online defamation from TheDirty.com is to contact an experienced Internet defamation attorney, like myself.
When dealing with online defamation, time is of the essence. Just as a simple fire can spread into a full blown forest fire, it’s important to put an end to it before it has time to grow and embed itself in the fabric of the world-wide web.
Litigation over online defamation is NO JOKE. Although filing a lawsuit can sometimes be a good idea, litigation is not always an appropriate course of action – as it can be costly, and be drawn out over a long time. There are numerous considerations to consider and discuss with an experienced defamation removal attorney before taking action.
Additionally, litigation involving Internet defamation is an incredibly niche and complex area of law, so it’s best to formulate a gameplan with a lawyer who has years of experience, hundreds of removals under their belt, and all for a flat reasonable fee.
For example, defamation actions are notoriously difficult to prosecute because of the many procedural and substantive hurdles, and plaintiffs must account for many issues when proceeding, including:
- Abbreviated statutes of limitations,
- Jurisdictional issues regarding where a party can sue and be sued,
- Dozens of privileges and defenses under the First Amendment of the Constitution and CDA,
- Possible statutory counterclaims (ANTI-SLAPP laws),
- Inconsistent laws regarding defamation from each state,
- Notoriously difficult damage claims to prove,
- The difficulty of uncovering the identity of anonymous authors.
If you are curious about the substantive and procedural requirements for bringing a defamation claim in Ohio, you can check out our comprehensive guide to Ohio defamation law here.
Furthermore, even in the cases where a party does procure a valid court order, websites aren’t always required to remove the content. Keep in mind, when dealing with online defamation, there is NO GUARANTEE that information will be removed, even with a valid court order. You can see the extent to which it has been denied by reading our past articles on the search engine Bing, and Searchenginewatch.com.
Unfortunately, the decision to remove content – post-presentation of a valid court order- is more or less a voluntary choice by websites and website operators. Many sites, like TheDirty.com are wary about certain abuses related to court orders, and don’t accept orders as being valid under certain circumstances.
When faced with online defamation and false posts, it’s critical to hire an attorney who not only is experienced in the niche area of Internet defamation, but who knows how to effectively secure court orders.
If you or your business has been defamed on TheDirty.com or a similar website, the Internet Defamation Removal Attorneys of Minc Law will assist in evaluating your case and obtaining a court order for permanent removal. Don’t let your reputation be thrown to the dogs, and take a proactive step towards securing your personal and professional future now. To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation, call us at (216) 373-7706, or schedule a meeting online.
Reputation & Management Repair Tip: In order to suppress negative Google search results, there are several free steps you can take. (1) Start a blog and update it frequently, (2) Actively post on various social media channels, (3) Link between your social media profiles and blog, (4) Comment regularly on public articles and news.
Work With the Defamation Removal Attorneys of Minc Law Today & Secure a Permanent Removal
False, defamatory, and malicious posts made on TheDirty.com (and sites like it) can cause irreparable harm to your reputation and standing in the community (personal and professional). However, you should keep in mind, that the individuals who use online defamation as a means to harm innocent persons and advance their own agendas may be held liable for the humiliation, embarrassment, lost personal and professional opportunities, and other damages caused.
Reach out to the Cleveland-based online defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law. At Minc Law, we know who to contact, how to contact them, and how to hold them liable. And, it shows. We have a nearly 100% removal rate, all for a flat, reasonable fee, and have litigated over 100 internet defamation lawsuits, in 19 states, and 3 countries.
Reach out today to schedule a free and confidential internet defamation removal consultation, and take the first step towards securing your reputation and future. Call us at (216) 373-7706, or schedule a meeting online.