The Brass Tacks: What is CheatersRUs.com?
Before “The Web 2.0,” Internet users were merely consumers of content, passively viewing whatever was put in front of them. However, this all changed in 1999 when the Web 2.0 came into existence. Users transitioned from reactive viewers to the actual creators of content, having a direct effect and voice on the type information being disseminated and the method of doing so.
The Web 2.0 emphasized third-party content creation, leading to the early 2000s boom of:
- Social media websites,
- Blogs and video sharing sites,
- Folksonomies and wikis,
- Web applications, and
- Other collaborative consumption platforms.
Comment sections became the norm, and just like that, user-generated content platforms were born. Unfortunately, with the good brought about by the Web 2.0, came the bad, manifesting itself in the form of online cheater reporting websites, such as CheatersAreUs.com.
CheatersAreUs.com, also commonly referred to as CheatersRUs.com, is a popular user-generated content website labeling itself as a destination for aggrieved lovers, spouses, and jealous exes to “report or find cheaters.” Upon landing on their homepage, users are immediately confronted with unsavory and lewd personal pictures of ex-boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses, allowing users to rate the libelous content, add their own comments, and sort by state. Additionally, each profile includes the alleged cheaters name, city, state, and an accompanying photo.
If you’ve been the target of online defamation, malicious attacks, and other abuse on CheatersRUs.com, and other cheater-reporting websites, the Defamation Removal Lawyers of Minc, LLC want to fight for you and secure its permanent removal. Aaron and his team of seasoned online defamation removal attorneys have an incredibly high removal rate, and all for a reasonable flat fee.
Defamation Law Tip: In the United States, criminal defamation is not recognized at a federal level, only at a state level. As of 2018, twenty-four states and the U.S Virgin Islands have criminal defamation laws drafted. To check whether your state is one of the twenty-four with criminal defamation laws on their books, click here to learn about the conduct required and the penalties.
How Do User-Generated “Cheater” Reporting Sites Legally Exist Online?
Most people are shocked and surprised out that user-generated content platforms legally exist online, often with little to no complications or issues. After all, these sites host toxic, illegal, and defamatory content, so why aren’t they sued into oblivion? Newspapers and websites would never be allowed to publish such vile things. Well, first let’s start with the primary piece of Internet legislation governing user-generated online content platforms.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act
Sites like CheatersRUs.com, and other cheater-reporting websites are protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA). Section 230 provides broad protections against liability for websites where content is contributed by third-parties, thus immunizing them from defamation claims.
One one hand, immunity granted under Section 230 of the CDA has allowed for websites such as Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and Youtube to flourish, and promote open discussion and the free-flow of information that might otherwise not be discussed. However, such lax restrictions are often accompanied with users pushing the limit, posting illegal, defamatory, and malicious content.
Defamation Removal Fact: Section 230 of the CDA has historically sided with user-generated platform providers on issues involving defamation, false information, sexually explicit content, threats, discriminatory housing ads, failure to warn claims. In late 2017, Congress proposed the “Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act” as an amendment to Section 230, which criminalizes the knowing assistance, facilitation, or support of sex trafficking online. The bill is still under consideration, and has received considerable criticisms for widening the scope of user-generated content platform liability.
CheatersRUs.com’s editorial model and immunity
CheatersRUs, and other cheater-exposing websites, are not the actual creators or publishers of such toxic content. They merely provide the platform for expression, as all content posted is the sole product of third-party posters. Newspapers and new websites don’t enjoy the same protection user-generated content platforms do, because they create original content, edit, comment, and have a direct hand in the creation of the content distributed. A quick glance at their “Removals” page reveals they are well aware of such protections granted under the CDA. It reads:
“CheatersRUs.com is acting as a common carrier in providing an interactive computer service and as, such, provides a forum for posting comments made by third parties, but does not endorse, approve, or otherwise evaluate the content posted.”
If CheatersRUs were to make editorial comments or edits, they would be able to be held liable, and the CDA would not apply. CheatersRUs.com does not function under a traditional editorial model, rather they outsource all content to the general public, allowing for plausible deniability that they had no direct influence or collaboration with posters who hijack platforms to push their own toxic agendas.
Ohio Defamation Fact: The Ohio State Bar Association lays out a list of common questions concerning defamation and the media. They note, the Ohio Constitution provides broad protection for media and newspaper opinion pieces and the information presented does not have to be 100% accurate, as long as the core of it is substantially true. As long as journalists and media organizations can justify and support the “gist” or “sting” of their statements, then such statements will be allowed.
So, who can I actually hold liable for defamatory online content?
Although you can’t hold CheatersRUs, and other user-generated content platforms) liable for defamatory online content, you can go after the individual poster. Malicious, independent posters are not afforded the same protections as websites under the CDA, and can be held liable for libel (written and published defamatory statements).
But, uncovering the identity of a malicious poster isn’t always easy, and can be overwhelming and stressful for the average defamed party. Uncovering a poster’s identity can require the subpoenaing of Internet Service Providers to produce identifying information of that malicious poster, and is not something that should be undertaken alone. When seeking to identify a malicious online poster or defamer, it’s highly recommended you seek professional assistance. Doing so will increase your chances of a successful and swift removal.
The Ohio-based, Internet Defamation Removal Attorneys of Minc, LLC will work with websites, content administrators, and third-party arbitration services to identify the defamer and hold them liable. Time is of the essence, so don’t hesitate. Reach out today by calling us at (216) 373-7706, or by scheduling a meeting online. At Minc Law, our goals are your goals, and we want to fight for your reputation.
Defamation Law Refresher: A party who makes false statements, in written or spoken form, damaging another person’s reputation, is often referred to as a “defamer,” “libeler,” or “slanderer.” Just remember, libel is the written publication of a false statement, while slander is the spoken publication. The only difference? The form in which they are published to a third-party.
Key Issues With CheatersRUs.com’s Posting & Removal Policies
As a website with heavy emphasis on user-generated content, CheatersRUs.com opens itself up to a variety of user abuses and violations. Typically, most user-generated content platforms all take similar form and are subject to several key abuses, including:
- Lack of proper registration: CheatersRUs sets the bar incredible low when it comes to registration, and doesn’t even require the registration of an actual account. To report a cheater, all a poster needs to do is enter a title, an individual’s name, and the content. Lax registration standards and anonymous posters are two critical flaws in most user-generated content platforms, and posters are more likely to defame and humiliate others when they know they aren’t being watched. Using email and social media accounts as a registration method is an important deterrent to the posting of online defamatory content, as user’s are less likely to hide behind an anonymous veil, and legal recourse is easier to realize.
- Unverifiable and unregulated content: Going hand-in-hand with anonymous registration, or lack thereof, is unverifiable and unregulated content. If a poster has no reason to worry about being held accountable, why wouldn’t they stretch the truth? CheatersRUs doesn’t even contain a proper Terms of Service (TOU), and explicitly states they don’t evaluate any content posted, thus placing the onus of regulation and removal on the injured party. Lack of proper verification and content moderation policies create a higher likelihood of poster bias, libel, and malicious attacks on innocent parties, seriously threatening your reputation and character.
- Copyright infringement: Most users don’t understand the concept of copyrighted content, and when presented with the option to attach a picture of an ex-boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, or other individual, posters will likely use one from that person’s social media profile. What they fail to understand is the copyright to that photo belongs to the individual it was stolen from, and is not theirs to post. Luckily, the CDA has carved out an exception for intellectual property infringement, and does not grant immunity to websites who host or allow stolen photos and copyrighted material. At Minc Law, Aaron and his team will explore all options to remove malicious online content, including via DMCA takedown for illegally posted copyright material. If you’ve found your picture posted on CheatersRUs.com, or other cheater-reporting sites, make sure you screenshot the post, to help strengthen your claim and expedite its removal.
- Negligible removal policy and affiliate removal services: CheatersRUs.com’s removal policy isn’t very assuring for injured parties, as it reads, “Please note that we get hundreds of messages daily for removals both (legit and forged) and that it can take anywhere up to 2 months to review your case and to verify the email and information provided.” They also require “as much information as possible regarding the post in order to remove the post in a timely fashion.” Not only do they make users wait a lengthy time for removal, allowing it to further spread online and embed itself into other sites, but CheatersRUs posts affiliate links for third-party removal services. There’s no indication whether CheatersRUs receives a kickback for directing defamed parties to such services, creating a potential conflict of interest, and further complicating the removal process.
Additionally, there’s very little information on the Internet of CheatersRUs.com responding to defamed parties, so it is highly recommended you seek out an experienced defamation removal attorney to contact and work with them.
Defamation Law Tip: When removing online defamation and malicious posts, it’s highly suggested you meticulously document everything. You should also have an independent third-party take pictures and print any supporting evidence, as to eliminate any potential argument or claim that you tampered with, or fabricated, evidence.
Work With Experienced Online Defamation Removal Attorneys Today
False and defamatory posts on cheater-reporting, and other user-generated online content platforms, can have a serious and long lasting effect on your reputation and livelihood. When dealing with defamation, the longer it stays online, the further embedded into the intricate fabric of the Internet it becomes, making removal that much more difficult.
The experienced and strategic Internet Defamation Lawyers of Minc, LLC will fight to protect and restore your name and reputation, remove defamatory postings, and do everything in their power to hold malicious individual posters liable. At Minc, LLC, we know how to approach cheater-reporting sites such as CheatersRUs.com, and will work with them to secure the permanent removal of malicious content.
Aaron, and his team of Northeast Ohio defamation lawyers, are extremely confident in their ability to remove online defamation, and all for a reasonable, flat fee. To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation, call (216) 373-7706, or schedule a meeting online today.