My mother always said, “If you can’t say something nice to say don’t say anything at all.”
Well, that life lesson just got a dose of steroids in Texas where a couple was awarded $13 million in a defamation lawsuit against people who were anonymously posting false and inflammatory comments on the couple’s website.
After reading about the case I said out loud, “It is about time!” This world is filled with angry, bitter cowards who have been able to hide behind their computers while using the internet to, in many cases ruin people’s lives and businesses without accepting any responsibility for it. There have been no consequences in the past for those who hid behind fake names. But all that could be changing if other courts follow the decision of this Texas judge.
How different would the world be if people had to be responsible for the things they said, put in writing and/or sent via photo?
The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, is to be able to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction. But nowhere does it say that someone has the right to hide their words behind a false identity.
I think we can all take a little comfort in the fact that this decision, at minimum, will cause many people to give a second thought to whether their anonymous comments will be worth $13 million dollars.
DSP Lovey’s Life Lesson:
Chances are we have all written something in an e-mail or in the comment section of a website that was at the very least unkind. Hopefully, most of us signed our real name to it. But if you have ever thought about writing something unkind or unflattering and didn’t plan to use your real name, think twice. Your words just may find their way back to you, and cost you dearly.
A good rule of thumb is, if you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face then you probably shouldn’t put it in writing.
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