Thursday, December 3, 2009

Online Responsibility

Dr. Phil had an episode today about litigation and the WWW was mentioned - Twitter, specifically. During the episode, both Dr. Phil and the lawyers warned viewers to watch what you say online, etc., and so on, and so forth.

This is an important point, of course, but the larger point is the law and the Web. Few active netizens want the federal law involved in the online world for all sorts of reasons, not least of which being the fact that any country could decide to pursue any law much further (and farther) than would eve be allowed IRL. Yet, the double-sided issue here is pretty clear-cut: we don't want to be left wide open to damages, and we don't want to be censored by fear of litigation.

Largely, it also works both ways:

Truth is a defense and regardless of what people tell you, things you say on a personal blog or personal profile are not "just like taking out a billboard in Times Square." That's fucking ridiculous! That's precisely tantamount to suggesting a sign you place in your yard is "a billboard in Times Square." However, the smaller truth is that both are public spaces, so unless access is somehow restricted to these areas, the public (at-large, meaning "passersby" and, legally speaking, potential "innocents") can stumble upon these items without necessarily meaning to do so. Obviously, this can cause a lot more than "hurt feelings"...

Except that it really can't.

"Words can hit hard as a fist" and all that aside, it's a general rule that only asshole will find something inflammatory which isn't. Take other people's feelings into consideration, certainly, but don't buy into the idea that you're broadcasting your innermost thoughts to the world when you Tweet something like, "So-and-so is a jerk!"

It is society's willingness to consider these things legally harmful which makes them so!

(That said, The Cyberculturalist is not a legal resource and cannot be held liable for legal advice. This is not legal advice, BTW; this is an opinion. Which should be made fact, and can be, if enough people decide to make it so.)

© C Harris Lynn, 2009

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