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Our Sentiment about Text Analytics and Social Media

When is a blog post not supposed to be taken seriously?
Submitted by Christine Sierra on Thu, 2009-03-12 04:00

Remember the good ole days when, if you wanted to ruin someone’s reputation, you had to go to the local watering hole, whisper an untruth in someone’s ear, and watch the fire spread? Then, when confronted about your inappropriateness you could claim, “Oh, I was kidding. They shouldn’t have taken me seriously!” An interesting case is being considered in a NY court room where a professional model is suing for libel because she was insulted repeatedly on a blog and the defense lawyer for the blogger stated, “…that the posts aren’t libelous because they were written in the “youthful, obnoxious, bantering” style that’s typical of the Web and isn’t meant to be taken seriously.” Give me a break. The name of the blog is “Skanks in NY”. If you didn’t want your audience to think you were aiming to ruin someone reputation, then you might have wanted to think of another name. I don’t know anyone who has ever said, “Thanks for calling me a skank. Want to go grab a drink?” The lawyer also said, “…outside of court that her client’s blog garnered little traffic until news of the lawsuit broke. The blog remains available online because no one has requested that it be taken down…” Now I don’t know about you, but as a blogger on both my corporate site and my own personal site, I don’t think that my “typical” blog post isn’t meant to be taken seriously. I may joke around on them, but I want people to listen, be engaged, and learn something (if possible). And if it’s not to be taken seriously - I usually state that. Like when I wrote an open letter to the President on my personal blog because I’m afraid my 4 year old son is turning into a stalker given his recent obsession with the President. It’s obviously not true. However, it also wasn’t insulting or derogatory to the President. So, if reputation management is key for both the corporate and personal brand - and if they two are the same, as in the case of this model – then when is it okay to slam a “product” on a blog and when is it outright libelous? And when did we start defending bullying behavior because the “typical Web isn’t meant to be taken seriously”. Therein lies my problem with this case, more than anything. Blogs are like one big playground, or watering hole, and I believe you really should be careful what you say before it comes back to bite you - in the court of law.