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College gossip site creator unapologetic at student Q&A

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  1. Libel and Privacy
JuicyCampus.com founder Matt Ivester, whose site has been criticized as profiting from invasion of college students’ privacy and tarnishing their…

JuicyCampus.com founder Matt Ivester, whose site has been criticized as profiting from invasion of college students’ privacy and tarnishing their reputations, fielded questions this week at Georgetown University and largely brushed off concerns that the site is offensive and damages lives, The Washington Post reported.

The site’s content consists of anonymous gossip-trading and rumor-spreading — by and about college students from about 500 campuses across the country. It encourages posters to name names.  

When asked Tuesday at Georgetown whether the posted rumors on the Web site could jeopardize students’ job prospects with the government or elsewhere, Ivester was dismissive, saying that site material is blocked from appearing in Google searches.  

"I think they’re going to have to start developing a sense of humor," Ivester said, according to The Post, when he was pressed about the potential of more intensive employer background-checking. "It’s not going to work if they start taking unsubstantiated, ridiculous gossip as the truth."  

While Ivester insists he has done nothing wrong and the site abdicates responsibility for defamatory, racist, or anti-religious posts, JuicyCampus has been threatened with lawsuits and banned from certain campuses, and it faces government scrutiny. Connecticut authorities are investigating the Web site for consumer deception, fraud or misleading statements regarding failure to comply with its own terms of service, which state that the site does not tolerate harassing and threatening messages.

In spite of the attempts to hold the site accountable for harm, a federal law — Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — protects Web sites from liability arising out of user-created content, so aggrieved students may have no legal recourse against the site.