Table of Contents
What is Topix.com
Topix.com is a veteran in the online news arena, and has taken many shapes and forms since its inception in 2004. Originally, Topix started as a news and content aggregator, categorizing news by geography and topic. Over the years, Topix evolved from a volunteer-based news and content aggregator, to news and content creator, amassing over 31 million users per month and cracking the top 100 largest U.S. websites.
Most notably, in 2007, after Knight Ridder, Tribune Company, and Gannett media purchased a 75% share in Topix.com, they transformed Topix into a community-based platform, at one point sporting over 100 journalists and editors. However, in 2012, with zero notice and communication to any of the contributing editors, Topix removed their volunteer ‘edit option’, and began its evolution into a hub of unsubstantiated gossip and online defamation, putting your reputation and livelihood at risk.
The cause of Topix abrupt transformation?
As they grew in popularity, it became evident the bulk of its growth was fueled by small cities and towns, which focus an thrive off traditionally small-town gossip.
Now, Topix allows users to create their own forums, where they can “dish” and gossip on any topic imaginable. Forums are organized by locality and subject matter, allowing users the option to comment, post, and even create polls, a luxury taken advantage of by many, resulting in serious abuse of this user-generated platform. And if you think it’s small-scale, then you’re mistaken. In 2009, couple Mark and Rhonda Lesher filed a defamation suit against the anonymous posts of Topix.com, citing over 1,700 defamatory and libelous statements posted about them.
Defamation Law Fact: According to a 2011 New York Times article, Topix.com, and other small-town gossip sites, are sites lightly trafficked in cities, but enjoy a dedicated following in the “feud states”, also known as the rural south, the Ozarks, Appalachia, and Kentucky (think Hatfield and McCoy rivalry).
If you’ve been attacked, defamed, cyberbullied, or libeled on Topix.com, or a similar user-generated content platform, the Internet Defamation Removal Law Firm, Minc Law, wants to fight for you. Aaron Minc, and his team of defamation removal attorneys, are experienced in the art of libel removal and know how to work with site administrators, content managers, and third-party arbitration services, to effectively and efficiently remove defamation and false content.
At Minc Law, we have a near 100% removal rate, and all for a flat, reasonable fee. To schedule a confidential, no-obligation consultation, call us at (216) 373-7706, or schedule a meeting online today!
At Minc Law, we want to fight to protect your reputation.
Will Topix Remove Defamatory Posts and Personal Attacks From Its Website and Forums?
While Topix.com does have a Terms of Service (TOS) and Removal Policy, it’s buried in legalese, making it difficult for the average injured party to understand their rights and removal process, and promoting a toxic environment ripe with cyberbullying and online libel.
Below are 3 key issues plaguing Topix.com’s TOS and Removal Policy:
- Removal on a case-by-case basis: Topix.com’s removal policy is on a case-by-case basis, providing no uniform criteria for users to rely on when submitting a removal takedown. Their TOS reads, “We may remove any content for any reason, but we are not responsible for any failure or delay in removing any content.” False content, accusations, and circumstances differ in each post, and with no affirmation or statement defining a core set of principles for removal, Topix leaves its users in the dark.
- Forum anonymity: Topix allows anonymous users unfettered forum access, and encourages them to post as much as they like. Anonymous reviews and posts create a higher likelihood of defamatory online posts, due to a sense of invincibility knowing legal recourse is highly unlikely. However, there has been past success in suing and revealing the identities of anonymous posters, which can be read about in the case of Mark and Rhonda Lesher. Additionally, when lodging a claim against a malicious poster, Topix.com offers little-to-no assistance.
- Unverified information and content: User-generated content platforms all take a similar shape, and allow users to post unverified information due to their broad, and blanket, protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a landmark piece of Internet legislation. Unverified posts go hand-in-hand with anonymous posters, and when provided a tenuous set of posting guidelines and regulations, users generally tend to err on the side of falsified content.
When confronting online defamation and the malicious posters behind it, it’s important to approach it strategically and with someone who knows the ins and outs of content removal. The Defamation Removal Attorneys of Minc, LLC have a near 100% takedown rate, and know how to collect, preserve, and present evidence to necessary parties.
Give yourself the best chance of success, and reach out to defamation attorney Aaron Minc, and his team of Defamation Removal Lawyers, to formulate a takedown game-plan and remove online defamation once and for all. Defamation of character is a dangerous game, so let us fight for you. Call us at (216) 373-7706, or schedule a meeting online today.
Defamation Removal Fact: When Topix first started, they charged defamed and libeled users who wanted to expedite the removal of a post or review. Thirty state attorney general’s’ protested, and ultimately, Topix ceased charging.
Removal by DMCA Takedown & Other Alternatives
Aaron, and his Northeast Ohio team of defamation lawyers, will employ alternative takedown methods when necessary, such as by DMCA Takedown. Topix.com has been response to DMCA takedown requests, and requests to remove illegal content, such as child pornography and revenge-porn.
What is a DMCA Takedown?
A Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) Takedown of offending material is available when copyrighted material is posted without your permission. Most users are unaware of their copyright in personal images, texts, and other works, and malicious internet users usually aren’t tech savvy enough to post or find original, free-use material when defaming persons online.
Injured and defamed parties who find personal images, videos, and other texts of theirs posted online without their permission, may have it taken down, as you have the right to protect against your copyrights being used in an unconsented way. If you’ve found a picture or other work posted without your permission, it is highly recommended you screenshot it, in order to strengthen your claim for removal.
Working with an experienced Online Defamation Removal Attorney is crucial when exploring alternative removal options. Aaron Minc, and his team of removal lawyers, know who to contact, how to locate them, and where to send necessary takedown notices.
Defamation Law Fact: Up to 80% of all revenge-porn pictures are taken by the victims themselves, meaning they are the true holders of the copyright and may bring an action for copyright infringement against the uploader, or poster.
Illegal Content and Revenge Porn
Additionally, if you’ve located any illegal content on Topix.com, this may be grounds for immediate removal. Non-consensual pornography and accompanied cyberbullying, sometimes labeled as “revenge porn,” has experienced rapid regulation and criminalization efforts in the last few years, with most U.S. states criminalizing it in some way. To learn more about your state’s efforts and laws regulating revenge porn, check out our interactive and detailed state-by-state map.
Who Can I Hold Liable for Online Defamation?
At first, it might seem like an obvious choice to hold the website where the defamatory content was posted liable. However, user-generated content platforms are generally immune from defamation lawsuits due to their blanket immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), a popular piece of Internet legislation. Simply put, you can’t hold Topix.com liable, unless a narrow exception is met.
Section 230 provides, “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.”
User-generated content platforms, such as Topix.com, are classified in a similar category as other information carriers, such as cable system operators and phone companies. Just because you receive a threatening or harassing phone call from someone, does not mean the phone company is liable. They’ve merely provided a neutral third-party service for users to generate content.
The CDA makes it difficult for victims of online defamation to seek legal recourse, unless they know where to look, and that’s to the root of the issue; the malicious poster.
Injured and defamed parties may hold malicious posters liable for defamatory online posts.
Locating and identifying malicious posters can be an arduous and complicated process, as websites can be uncooperative and difficult to work with. It’s highly recommended injured and defamed parties reach out to an experienced defamation removal attorney. Doing so will speed up the removal process and exponentially increase removal odds. Aaron, and his highly dedicated team, know who to contact, how to contact them, and boast nearly a 100% removal rate.
Defamation Law Fact: Before bringing a defamation claim, it’s important to first understand the definition of defamation. Defamation is the general term for a false statement published to a third-party, damaging a person’s reputation, and can generally be broken down into two types; libel and slander. Libel is a written false statement of fact damaging a person’s reputation, while slander is spoken. Libel and slander only differ in form of publication, not substance.
Mark & Rhonda Lesher’s $13.8 Million Dollar Defamation Suit
In 2009, Texas couple Mark and Rhonda Lesher were the subject of over 1,700 defamatory statements and attacks posted on Topix.com by anonymous commenters. Aftering a 2009 sexual assault acquittal, countless online attacks popped up on Topix.com, accusing both Mark and Rhonda of engaging in drug dealing and various sexual perversions. Subsequently, both were forced to close their respectives practices, a law firm, and beauty salon, leading to a gargantuan defamation suit against the anonymous commenters and libelers behind the attacks.
At first, the Leshers attempted to subpoena addresses and identities of over 200 commenters, but this was later amended and narrowed down to six key parties. Although not a party to the suit, Topix.com was required to hand over IP addresses of the six malicious posters, with an initial verdict awarding $13.8 million in damages to the Leshers, spread across all six defendants.
However, in 2012, a Texas judge overturned the massive jury award, citing a lack of evidence tying the defendants to the comments. But, this case is notable, and significant in the world of online defamation because it is the first case involving Topix.com, and the required revelation of anonymous commenter identities. Ultimately, the Leshers’ defamation suit has paved the way for future litigation, creating a more transparent and tangible channel of recourse for defamed parties.
Defamation Removal Tip: When removing online defamation, also known as defamation of character, time is of the essence. Defamatory posts stand to affect not only your personal life, but your professional one, and it’s best to put the fire out before it spreads. Make sure to preserve evidence by screenshotting all offending content, storing it in digital form, and having a neutral third-party document it as well. Doing so will strengthen your claim and eliminate any argument of digital manipulation, allowing for a swift and effective takedown.
The Internet Defamation Removal Lawyers of Minc Law Want to Work With You
Topix.com poses a serious threat to your reputation and livelihood, due to its large following and established online presence. If your character and reputation have been defamed on Topix.com, including its community and user forums, you don’t have to sit by and suffer.
Based out of Cleveland, Ohio, the Defamation Removal Lawyers of Minc Law will leave no stone unturned, and fight to hold a malicious poster or commenter liable by revealing their identity along the way. Our established team of removal lawyers has a proven history of online defamation removal, and nearly 100% removal rate. At Minc Law, your goals are our goals, so let us fight for you.
To schedule a free, no obligation initial consultation, call us at (216) 373-7706, or contact us online today to schedule an appointment.