Thursday 20 August 2009

Internet privacy vs. free speech

Here are the headlines:

Model's Suit Exposes 'Cyberbully' Blogger; Will Blogging Be Changed?

"Why should anybody let it go?" model Liskula Cohen told ABC-TV's Good Morning America today when asked why she went to court to learn the identity of an abusive blogger instead of just ignoring the hateful words

In a monumental case Google is being told to open up user info regarding this defamation and libel. I think it a great idea.

If you cannot go on other media and defame one's character, the why should you be able to tell lies on the Internet?

In a Globe & Mail (Toronto) article, (the model is a Canadian, working in the US), they cite a brilliant ruling:
"Mr. Wagner said one of the most important things in the case is that Madam Justice Joan Madden of the Supreme Court of the State of New York used established law and did not distinguish between the online and offline worlds for judging both defamation and free speech."
This makes sense to me. There are many sites that concern me:
These sites are unreliable, appalling and may steer a patient, student, client away from a perfectly good service provider. There are governing bodies with information on these people, and word of mouth is a good way to find lawyers, realtors, and the like.

Any self-proclaimed expert can post information, and it is up to the user to weed out reliable sources. I post my personal info (B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed.) on my site, not for any other reason than demonstrating that I have good credentials and a background in research. I find that some media outlets present and post articles that are not based in research, but in gossip and innuendo. Some are not factual, either.

I would tell my students to look for facts from those affiliated with universities, governments, medical establishments, and well-established institutions. I have warned, on my Senior's Health Blog in a previous blog: I am increasingly appalled by the number, the extent and the range of advertising and propaganda, and blatant manipulation of seniors as businesses, and website managers, try to earn a buck. They take advantage of those who are ill, and frail.

Reliable information is getting more difficult to find.


ellen abbott said...

I think it's wrong that people can be hateful, malicious and slanderous anonymously on the internet. In what other media is that allowed?

Dave King said...

I am with you on this. The sites that you listed do much damage I think, even when those posting on them are not being deliberately mischievous.