Legal action by two women from Yale aimed at college discussion board AutoAdmit could pose a threat to anonymous trolling.
Reuters reports that the suit lodged June 8 in the U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut includes subpoenas for 28 anonymous users of AutoAdmit, all of whom had defamed the women and subsequently are alleged to have cost an internship.
Although the case may well turn into an argument in relation to free speech online, it’s difficult to sympathize with the trolls. Free speech does need to be defended but it must be respected; with any power comes responsibility. Slandering people anonymously, particularly where that slander has direct consequences is a step too far. It’s amazing how many people seem to have a disconnect between the online world and offline world, one where perfectly sane and normal people who would never so much as say boo about anyone offline become the direct opposite online. The quicker everyone realizes that there are real people at the other end of online attacks, the better the overall online community will be.
(photo credit: Richard Dawkins)