Problems with Juicycampus & other "online rumor websites"

Holly Wood ’08 sends in an article that prominently features JuicyCampus.com… you know, the gossip website that made an attempt a while ago to take away posters from the Wesleyan ACB and failed miserably.
The header of JuicyCampus says “C’mon. Give us the juice. Posts are totally, 100% anonymous.” In contrast, the CollegeACB header says “Speak your mind. The anonymous confession board gives students a place to vent, rant, and talk to their peers about things that might otherwise be considered taboo.
The Reader’s Digest article recounts:

When Vanderbilt University freshman Chelsea Gorman was raped near campus in the spring of 2007, her life was shattered. She told only her close friends about the ordeal and left school for the rest of the semester after she began suffering panic attacks, but by last March she was back in Nashville and putting her life together. Then she got a phone call from a friend. The story of her rape had been posted on the Internet.

“Chelsea Gorman Deserved It” was the title of a message posted on juicycampus.com, a popular website dedicated to anonymous gossip about college students. “Everyone thinks she’s so sweet, but she got what she deserved,” wrote the unnamed author of the post, who went on to express envy for her rapist. Suddenly the whole campus knew about the devastating attack, and Gorman’s fellow students talked about it in front of her.

“The business model of these sites is hate,” says Parry Aftab, a lawyer who specializes in Internet privacy and security issues. “They’re promoting it. They’re encouraging you to say outrageous things.”

Smear someone in a traditional media outlet, like a newspaper or a talk show, and you can end up in court. But the law that Congress passed in 1996 establishing basic Internet regulations prevents website hosts from being held responsible for what outsiders post on their sites. In other words, the law says that the kind of defamation that would get the New York Times sued is fair game on JuicyCampus.

I’m not sure that this is so far off from something that could happen on our own CollegeACB. The article goes on to discuss other websites that encourage invasive gossip, ways to deal with online harassment, and the possibility for legal action.

Maybe next time you write on CollegeACB, think before you post?

[EDIT] Check out our previous coverage of JuicyCampus:

[ /EDIT by Justin, 4:37 PM]

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14 thoughts on “Problems with Juicycampus & other "online rumor websites"

  1. J. Newman

    There’s a Washington post article where the guy who runs JuicyCampus went to Georgetown and people asked him how he could sleep at night. There was an interesting side comment in the article, also, suggesting that the site has had more and more trouble attracting advertisers willing to pay for ad space. I suppose then, that any activists who want to hit back at sites like juicycampus could publicly boycott any product that advertises on their site. May not work, but just a thought…

  2. J. Newman

    There’s a Washington post article where the guy who runs JuicyCampus went to Georgetown and people asked him how he could sleep at night.

    There was an interesting side comment in the article, also, suggesting that the site has had more and more trouble attracting advertisers willing to pay for ad space. I suppose then, that any activists who want to hit back at sites like juicycampus could publicly boycott any product that advertises on their site. May not work, but just a thought…

  3. Anonymous

    In other news, Lori Drew was acquitted of the major charge against her for being partly responsible for the so-called Myspace suicide.

  4. Anonymous

    In other news, Lori Drew was acquitted of the major charge against her for being partly responsible for the so-called Myspace suicide.

  5. polisciafterparty

    Coincidentally, the University of Chicago Law School held a conference about internet/speech/privacy- which dealt with precisely this phenomenon. Basically, the internet is the one (almost) completely unregulated medium, where ISP’s and other content providers are essentially shielded from liability. Add to this the culture of anonymity (and sometimes cruelty) online and you have a problem. Anyway, here are two links about what the panels discussed:Levmore on anonymityhttp://uchicagolaw.typepad.com/faculty/2008/11/chicagos-best-i.htmlNussbaum on online objectification of women:http://uchicagolaw.typepad.com/faculty/2008/11/ressentiment-th.html

  6. polisciafterparty

    Coincidentally, the University of Chicago Law School held a conference about internet/speech/privacy- which dealt with precisely this phenomenon. Basically, the internet is the one (almost) completely unregulated medium, where ISP’s and other content providers are essentially shielded from liability. Add to this the culture of anonymity (and sometimes cruelty) online and you have a problem. Anyway, here are two links about what the panels discussed:

    Levmore on anonymity
    http://uchicagolaw.typepad.com/faculty/2008/11/chicagos-best-i.html

    Nussbaum on online objectification of women:
    http://uchicagolaw.typepad.com/faculty/2008/11/ressentiment-th.html

  7. Anonymous

    I guess I understand the point here, but I can’t help being flattered by anonymous commenters posting favorably about my large penis.

  8. Anonymous

    I guess I understand the point here, but I can’t help being flattered by anonymous commenters posting favorably about my large penis.

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