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To Post or Not to Post? A Very Loaded Question…

Earlier this week the Star Tribune released an article that online users and bloggers should take into careful consideration. The article titled “In social media, why let the facts get in the way?” points out the fact that many people use the internet as a forum to post or share things that would never be appropriate, politically correct, or respectful if said in public or face-to-face. So why does posting it on the internet make it acceptable?

The article highlighted numerous examples why posting libelous statements online borders internet laws. Minnesota examples of these tricky lawsuits were used in the article:

“In Minnesota, only a handful of people have been sued for comments they made online and even fewer cases go to trial. Reasons for this, experts say, include:
•Attorneys can’t sue Internet companies — who have the deep pockets — for what individual users say because of protection from the federal Communications Decency Act.
•A blurring between fact and fiction continues unabated on Internet sites.
•Many states have no laws to address the endless ways people fabricate information.
•Many online postings are never seen in the first place. Unlike permanent comments in newspapers, postings can slide past without being noticed — but whether they ever disappear from databases remains in dispute.
•Online postings, depending on how they’re delivered, can have narrow audiences.
Ordinary folks are held to the same legal standards as news reporters and anyone else who makes written statements in public, but few seem to know that — or care.”

It’s almost as if the internet is a mask for many to use as a shield or a way to hide after spewing written words – a way to defy consequences.

As Marketing Maverick Caroline Melberg says, “If you wouldn’t be willing to put your statement on the front page of the New York Times with your name on it, don’t post it online.” In other words, posting online is releasing a statement publicly.

Do you think we need to enact stricter laws that hold online users accountable? Or do you see the internet as a place of deserved freedom?

Published on: March 16, 2011