Author Topic: Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued  (Read 2080 times)

Offline David In Indy

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Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued
« on: September 24, 2009, 03:06:57 pm »
Some of the content in this article are links to examples and other news articles. Click on the url at the bottom of this post to view them...

Five Tech Pitfalls You Should Avoid

Kids (and kids at heart) have always loved a little school-time tomfoolery, be it streaking at a football game or leaving a flaming bag of poop on a neighbor's doorstep. But in the digital age, the mischief has moved to the most public of forums: online. What may seem like harmless virtual-reality hijinks can have devastating real-world consequences. Switched consulted sociologist Carrie James of Harvard's GoodPlay Project, who recently conducted a study that examined the online behaviors and dilemmas facing 60 teens and young adults aged 15 to 25. With her help, we've come up with the top five online ethical pitfalls that ensnare today's students (and plenty of adults, too). Remember, like the toilet paper dangling from a TP'd tree of yore, online insults and Net misbehavior can leave a trail of incriminating, rep ruining, and possibly career-ending evidence. Ignore at your own risk.

If you're in school or you're an adult in the working world, ignore them at your own peril.

1. Illegal Downloading

The dilemma: You just gotta get that song, that TV show, that movie, whatever -- but you don't want to dip into your hard-earned beer fund.

The pitfall: You could hit Pandora for a quick listen, or Hulu for a free watch, but there's nothing like an all-expenses-paid trip to Torrentland, where you might guzzle down a few gigs and share your collection of rare Muppets records with like-minded enthusiasts. "There's a sense by many [folks] that they're little fish in a big sea and so won't get caught," says James, citing the findings of her study. "Despite the fact that it's illegal, it's what youth culture endorses."

The penalty: Well, kiddo, hate to break it to you, but any time you take a product without paying for it, you're stealing. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter what philosophical argument you make as the law has recently come down squarely on the side of content owners. Just ask the woman who has to pay $1.9 million for downloading just 24 songs. Or the gods of file-sharing themselves, the owners of Pirate Bay, who were sentenced to a year in the pokey and a $3.54 million fine. Next time the siren call of free tunes beckons, remember that you could quite easily end up in massive, crippling debt for life.

2. Borrowing Work

The dilemma: The clock is ticking and your research paper on 19th-century Welsh farming techniques is nearly due, but you just don't feel like buckling down for an all-nighter. (Same goes for older bloggers and tweeters snatching images that don't belong to them and 'forgetting' to add a credit.)

The pitfall: Sites like Cramster and Course Hero are the modern equivalents of term-paper services that once were advertised in the back of magazines (this is our polite way to hint this is an updated form of cheating). And we don't have to point out that cutting and pasting Wikipedia entries is problematic both because it's so error-ridden, and because you're taking others' ideas and claiming them as your own. "Plagiarism is a huge problem. No one [in the study] admitted to us that they had done it," James says. "But other studies [show] that plagiarism and cheating is on the rise. Very few, if any, students talk about the importance of credit for the original writer of materials."

The penalty: The irony of the digital age is that just as it has become incredibly easy to cheat, it has become even easier to detect. Teachers today have a pretty effective arsenal of tools at their disposal for detecting plagiarism -- from online services, to downloadable software that scans the Web, to perusing those cheating sites themselves. In high school, plagiarism usually gets you an F for the class, and, in college, you can get the boot after just the first offense.

3. Dissing a Teacher or Boss Online

The dilemma: Some teachers are not only soul-crushingly boring, but needlessly harsh graders. And some bosses just never seem to give an encouraging word, and, let's face it, they're jerks to boot. It is your personal mission to save future students and employees from your fate.

The pitfall: The temptation to slam a teacher or employer is coupled with a digital world that has made it incredibly easy to sound off on social networking sites, especially with dedicated teacher-rating services (and their working-world equivalent, boss-rating services). In one of James's studies, she noted, "There were always a handful of [folks] who felt like the Internet is a different place and you can do whatever you want -- that's what it's for and if people don't like it, they just have to deal." The thing about public outbursts, though, is that they're public. With the Internet, they're not only spread around the world instantly, but they'll also likely exist forever. Add that to the fact that Internet anonymity is really a myth, and suddenly your little Facebook crack about Mr. Harrison's hairy crack can have devastating consequences.

The penalty: If you're lucky, your jibe about a teacher or boss might just end with an embarrassing public apology and the torture of having to look that authority figure in the eye every day. If you're unlucky, you could end up in court fighting off a libel case, like the couple sued by a dentist over a negative Yelp review, or the blogger who was publicly identified by Google after calling an acquaintance a "skank." Either way, it isn't pretty. If you must comment online, be fair, be truthful, and don't get personal.

4. Posting Inappropriate Content

The dilemma: Sometimes, your idea of having fun means doing things that are against the rules. Like when you drunk-Sharpied your roommate, or did body shots off of a complete (-ly attractive) stranger. Naturally, you have to record these things for posterity's sake and share them with interested parties (i.e., the entire world).

The pitfall: The Internet, as we've said a million times before, is instant, everywhere, and eternal. "I think it's one of the most common issues that students face," says James, "and a surprising number do nothing to adjust their privacy settings -- or change their behavior." So that photo of you puking off a balcony that you posted to Facebook is just a few mouse-clicks away from being a featured Digg photo waiting to be enjoyed by millions across the globe, including your peers, colleagues, teachers, newscasters, bosses, and romantic partners. You see where this is going?

The penalty: Expulsion. Loss of employment. Arrest. Irreparably damaged relationships. Being the butt of your social circle's jokes. We don't have enough space the damage done by careless postings, but to name a couple recent ones: perpetually gross oversharers, and these suspended doctors and nurses.

5. Using Your Phone in Class or Meetings

The dilemma: Something just popped into your noggin so deeply, hilariously, awesomely interesting that it must be communicated to a friend. Now. Only, you're in chemistry class or a sales meeting.

The pitfall: Sure, we'll grant that blind-texting is an admirable feat, as is learning how to breach your school or employer's firewall to let IMs and Facebook through. But, unless you're passing along the cure to cancer, we're pretty sure your deep thoughts can wait till after you get out of work or class.

The penalty: The debate in schools over kids' right to possess cell phones still rages on, but it's kind of beside the point. Get caught texting or, worse, taking a call, and you're either going to lose your phone, get detention, be suspended, or -- at the very least -- get an ass-chewing. From a more practical side, you'll also get lower grades. At work, you might not get fired, but do it enough and you may well just miss that important piece of info that helps you work better and advance in the company. Additionally, we can all agree that someone 'tip-tapping' or gabbing away while the rest of us feign attention is downright annoying. So go ahead, send that ROFL text now, and look forward to a future manning the deep fryer.



http://www.switched.com/2009/09/23/doing-the-right-thing-5-tech-pitfalls/?icid=main|htmlws-main|dl6|link3|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.switched.com%2F2009%2F09%2F23%2Fdoing-the-right-thing-5-tech-pitfalls%2F

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Offline delalluvia

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Re: Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2009, 03:29:34 pm »
Internet freedom was always an illusion.

Offline delalluvia

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Re: Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2009, 08:26:14 pm »
Texas Tech football players have made the mistake of Twittering about their frustrations with their coach.

Wow, they never thought it might get back to him!  Duh!  ::)

http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/Texas-Tech-invites-the-public-to-a-gallery-of-te?urn=ncaaf,192452

Offline CellarDweller

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Re: Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2009, 08:57:53 pm »
 ::)

haahaaha


Tell him when l come up to him and ask to play the record, l'm gonna say: ''Voulez-vous jouer ce disque?''
'Voulez-vous, will you kiss my dick?'
Will you play my record? One-track mind!

Offline Kerry

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Re: Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2009, 01:31:39 am »
Thanks for the warning, David. I've been aware for some time that I should be careful who I pillory in my satirical cartoons. Generally, I usually only criticize someone's homophobia when they are out and proud, demonstrably provable homophobes. Nonetheless, your article was a sobering read.
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Offline louisev

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Re: Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2009, 04:20:50 am »
That's why the revolutionaries of old, what Dan Brown sorta kinda not-quite represented in his new book about Freemasons and the church, used the time-honored technique of literary allegory.

You can't be sued, you aren't using anyone's names, and yet for those who have the Rosetta Stone of the allegoresis, they can laugh their heads off and nobody can do anything about it except seethe.  Like the most recent case for me of a woman who, believing herself to be the subject of a criticism I made of her profession online, launched a loud and vociferous complaint about me to the blog site in question.  IF the identifying material is non-specific, it is not actionable.  If it is done from your own equipment on your own time in a private place, it is not actionable.  It really does help to have friends who are lawyers and judges!  I bless them every day!
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Offline David In Indy

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Re: Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2009, 04:28:13 am »
That's what YOU think Louise. You have friends in high places... lawyers. AND judges!

What about everyone else? For the rest of us, we are left to fend for ourselves... to fight with our own devices. :-\

I am very careful who I snip an snap at online. One never knows where the proverbial snake in the grass lies in wait. :P

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Offline David In Indy

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Re: Posting Negative Comments Online Could Get You Sued
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2009, 04:32:37 am »
Thanks for the warning, David. I've been aware for some time that I should be careful who I pillory in my satirical cartoons. Generally, I usually only criticize someone's homophobia when they are out and proud, demonstrably provable homophobes. Nonetheless, your article was a sobering read.


You are very welcome sweet baby! :-*

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