Remember the tidbit last month about the woman who got slapped with a $750,000 lawsuit for writing a scathing review of her contractor on Yelp and Angie’s List? Jane Perez didn’t just recount her frustrations, she also levied accusations involving missing jewelry and urged people not to hire the company. Ultimately, the judge sided with the plaintiff, granting a temporary injunction that ordered her to edit the post.
A mandate like this could have lasting repercussions on the very nature of the web. If user review sites are the first stop, what’s next? Message boards and comment sections like the one below? And what about editorial content? Would Apple or Samsung be empowered to sue whenever they see unfavorable articles or reviews and have them pulled? Well, why not? They’re certainly no strangers to lawsuits. (Of course, that scenario would wipe out half the tech blogs out there.)
The suit could’ve opened a can of worms regarding free speech on the Internet. It could have, but it didn’t. On December 26, Public Citizen and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a 21-page petition calling the decision censorship. It was followed by a swift decision by the Virginia Supreme Court, which took just two days to come back and reverse the injunction.
Not that others won’t open that can, as more companies take to the courts alleging defamation. Indeed, reviews have the power to ruin reputations and break businesses. On the Web, where word spreads like wildfire, and everyone has the access and ability to post whatever they want, the stakes are even higher. Defamation is tough to prove, but there’s no shortage of plaintiffs trying.
As for this case, the only precedent it seems to have set so far is that judges can’t revise or censor online speech, at least not while a lawsuit is ongoing. But this case isn’t closed yet. A jury trial is still pending for damages, so we’ll have to see how the rest of this drama plays out. Hopefully, it won’t somehow trigger a civil rights crisis.
What do you think? Should the court order have been upheld and Perez mandated to redact her review? Or, did Virginia’s Supreme Court do the right thing and nix the decision? And if you knew there was a risk of getting sued, would that change if or how you post online? Weigh in.
Add magic to your living space with these string lights
String lights add personality and soft light to your living space. Here are some of the best.
Disguise your little one with the help of a themed costume
From avocado halves to hoppy bunnies, costumes speak to every child's unique spirit. And we've collected our favorite options.
The Galaxy S20 Ultra's Space Zoom camera is amazing and a bit creepy
The Galaxy S20 Ultra supports up to 100X zoom, which Samsung calls Space Zoom, but is it any good? Can a phone really product usable photos at 100x zoom? We've got our Galaxy S20 Ultra already so join us to find out!
These are the best Captain Marvel gifts
Go higher, further, faster with these incredible Captain Marvel gifts, from Funko POP! figures to awesome apparel.