Anonymous commenters

Virginia Supreme Court won't force Yelp to reveal identities of anonymous commenters

Kimberly Chow | Libel | News | April 16, 2015
April 16, 2015

In a victory for Yelp and its anonymous commenters, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled today that the circuit court could not force the California-based online review site to reveal the identities of users who had posted negative reviews of a Virginia carpet-cleaning company.

New York appellate court allows blogger to remain anonymous, dismisses defamation claim

Cindy Gierhart | Libel | News | January 8, 2014
January 8, 2014

A New York appellate court ruled that a blogger may remain anonymous, thereby preventing a political candidate from bringing a defamation suit against him or her.

The blogger, known as “Q-Tip,” wrote an article titled “Would You Buy A Used Car From These Men?,” which said the candidates “think you aren’t smart enough to see past the lies and downright criminal actions taken by their backers, the Croton Republican Committee.”

The court held on Dec. 26 that a reasonable reader, given the context of the blog and the contentious election, would conclude these statements reflected the blogger’s opinion, not fact.

Virginia court rules that Yelp must name seven anonymous reviewers

Cindy Gierhart | Libel | News | January 7, 2014
January 7, 2014

The Court of Appeals of Virginia ruled today that Yelp must reveal the identity of seven pseudonymous reviewers so that a company may sue them for defamation.

Hadeed Carpet Cleaning received numerous negative reviews on Yelp, and it singled out seven reviewers that it suspects were never actually customers. The company brought a defamation claim against them, subpoenaing Yelp for their identities. Yelp refused to disclose their identities.

Attorneys for Yelp argued that the Virginia court should adopt what is known as the Dendrite standard, followed in several other states, which requires those claiming defamation to provide sufficient evidence to support that claim before the court will force anonymous speakers to reveal their identities.

Company argues for release of Yelp posters' identity in Virginia appellate court

Latara Appleby | Privacy | News | October 9, 2013
October 9, 2013

A panel of judges in Alexandria, Va., heard an appeal today that will determine whether Yelp will have to reveal identifying information of anonymous commenters.

Hadeed Carpet Cleaning sued anonymous Yelp commenters in July 2012, alleging defamation and conspiracy to defame. Hadeed then subpoenaed Yelp seeking the names of those people, who had anonymously written negative reviews on the cleaning service’s Yelp profile.

Hadeed Carpet Cleaning v. Does, Yelp Inc.

May 8, 2013

Hadeed Carpet Cleaning filed a defamation suit in Virginia against several anonymous reviewers for comments they posted on Yelp. Hadeed alleges that the reviewers were not actually customers and that their allegations were defamatory, and sought a subpoena to identify them. The trial court issued the subpoena and Yelp appealed to the Virginia Court of Appeals.

Lower court should have protected blogger's identity, Mich. appeals court rules

Lilly Chapa | Privacy | News | April 11, 2013
April 11, 2013

The identity of an anonymous blogger sued for defamation does not have to be disclosed, according to the Michigan Court of Appeals.

The appeals court ruled last week that a lower court erred when it refused to protect the anonymous identity of the blogger known only as “Rockstar05.” The trial judge incorrectly applied law from outside the state when it should have used Michigan law addressing anonymous online commenters, the appeals court stated.

Jury awards $13.8M defamation judgment for plaintiffs in anonymous commenter case

Chris Healy | Libel | News | April 25, 2012
April 25, 2012

A jury has awarded a Texas couple $13.78 million in damages in their defamation lawsuit against a number of individuals who anonymously posted more than 25,000 comments about them online.

"The jury found that reputations are priceless, or at least very expensive," said William Demond, a Texas attorney who represents Mark and Rhonda Lesher.

The Leshers were subjected to accusations of sexual assault, sexual deviancy, and all manner of crimes for approximately a year and a half, according to Megan Hassan, who also represents the Leshers.

Indiana court reversed order to identify anonymous posters

Andrea Papagianis | Privacy | Feature | February 23, 2012
February 23, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's decision ordering The Indianapolis Star to reveal the identity of an anonymous commenter who was sued for defamation for comments made on the newspaper’s website.

In the ruling, the court said it weighed the First Amendment rights of the anonymous commenter versus the possible harm caused by the allegedly derogatory statements the commenter made on the website against the former head of a non-profit organization who filed the defamation suit.

Company asks judge to throw out anonymous poster ruling

Clara Hogan | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | July 28, 2011
July 28, 2011

An Internet service provider in Colorado earlier this month asked a federal court to throw out a magistrate judge’s ruling that, the provider says, ignored legal precedent regarding the unveiling of anonymous Internet posters.

Ind. media ordered to reveal idenities of website posters

Rachel Costello | Reporter's Privilege | Feature | March 3, 2011
March 3, 2011

A Marion County, Ind., court ruled that news outlets can be ordered to disclose identifying information about those who post anonymously on the news outlets' websites.