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(Gawker)   That whole anonymity thing on the Internet? Yeah, about that   (gawker.com ) divider line
    More: Followup, Courthouse News Service  
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13024 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Jan 2014 at 9:48 AM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-10 12:22:48 PM  
I'm ok with this.  This guys business is not a very good example but people shouldn't be able to libel a business for their own amusement or whatever other reason and have their anonymity protected.  Yelp is something people actually use to make purchasing decisions so writing false things there can be directly damaging a business in no uncertain terms.
 
2014-01-10 12:23:17 PM  

zeg: It so happens that a "statement of fact" is a technical legal term as well. The reason for this is obvious: legal proceedings hinge on disputed truths, and much of the process is to determine which claims are true and false. So you naturally get things like "findings of fact" and "statements of fact." Since it's impossible to know the "actual fact," "legal facts" wind up being rather different things that hopefully are mostly the same as the actual ones.


That's the part I wasn;t getting.

It's if I say "The ball is orange" and I think the ball is orange yet it's actually blue, that makes it a false statement.

If I say "The ball is orange" when I damn well know it's blue, that makes it a false staement of fact.

/right?
 
2014-01-10 12:24:48 PM  

Hermione_Granger: They seem to making the argument that you have to be an actual customer to leave a bad review of a company.

I don't think that's the case. I could leave a bad review of a company who gave a friend or relative shoddy service. I could leave a shoddy review of a company if they were hard to contact, get a quote from or overall gave me a reason not to be their customer. I could leave a shoddy review of a company if one of their vans cut me off in traffic.

Reviews do not have to be spot on truth. They're about perception and opinion. If you don't like my opinion about your crappy company, tough shiat. Man up and change your service perspective or stfu.

/pms & estrogen surge hitting hard today


Your biology must be clouding your thinking.  Either that, or you're a Teahadi.  What you're saying is that character assassination is A-OK.
 
2014-01-10 12:25:05 PM  

ReapTheChaos: I have no problem with this, if they really are customers then they have nothing to worry about.


I'm thinking they would be worried about getting hit with a defamation suit, rightly or wrongly. I'm thinking they would be worried about spending thousands of dollars, missing work, and the general stress of being sued by a vindictive petty asshole that you already wish you had never done business with.

Random Anonymous Blackmail: Yelp can suck a fart from my ass.
Posed a review of a local Mexican joint (nothing over the top, pretty straight forward review) and they pulled it.


It seems like this could have been remedied in a number fo ways without even coming withing 100 miles of privacy and free speech issues.

Like a simple "Unverifiable, Anonymous Reviews of a highly negative or positive nature can be challenged and absent any validation, removed." policy.
 
2014-01-10 12:34:47 PM  

StainedGlassRuby: I just meant unsatisfied customers should file complaint with business owner before just yelping about it. If they're going straight to yelp to complain, then how are they going to get any resolution? I didn't mean to imply that they deserved to have their personal info revealed.


It isn't about resolution. It is about protecting other people from wasting their money in your shiatty business.
 
2014-01-10 12:34:56 PM  

BojanglesPaladin: ReapTheChaos: I have no problem with this, if they really are customers then they have nothing to worry about.

I'm thinking they would be worried about getting hit with a defamation suit, rightly or wrongly. I'm thinking they would be worried about spending thousands of dollars, missing work, and the general stress of being sued by a vindictive petty asshole that you already wish you had never done business with.


You're assuming it will even go to court. The guy has several bad reviews, he's not suing any of them, he just wants to know who these anonymous reviewers are because he suspects they were never customers. If that's the case then they deserve to be sued.
 
2014-01-10 12:41:37 PM  
I will give Mr. Hadeed 4 stars for his excellent rug repair & cleaning. I would give him 5, but he is a little expensive and I can only understand about 25% of what he says.
2.bp.blogspot.com
 
2014-01-10 12:44:11 PM  

HindiDiscoMonster: o, I don't care what wiki says... it's not the be all end all of wisdom, nor do I care what some esoteric fuddy duddy says is correct, it sounds clumsy and wrong, and the idea can be represented much more gracefully.

false = opposite of true
facts are true


"Apples are the best fruit," is an opinion.
"The average weight of an apple is 10 pounds," is a fact.
 
2014-01-10 12:46:25 PM  

doglover: edmo: It's simply really:

[img.fark.net image 350x339]

But Will is a dick. Like a really big dick. We have hours of video evidence.


Either that or the writers wanted the character to be a really big dick and Wil did a decent job of acting.  I like Wil, he seems like a decent guy.  Wesley, well, they could have left that character out with no harm to the show.
 
2014-01-10 12:47:58 PM  
There is one solid fact on the Internet: (to paraphrase 'Rule 34') If it can be f**ked up, it will be f**ked up.

Several consumer complaints sites started out well -- then just got slammed with BS, frequently infested with those idiots inserting ad laden comments and others lying their arses off. Not to mention the squabbles between posters who disagreed with each others evaluation of the same product or service.

Then, of course, are the comments written by average folks, who in reality are paid employees of a listed company, whose job is to fake being a user of a disputed product and deliver a glowing report.

Take everything you read with a grain of salt. Some things you might need a pound or so.
 
2014-01-10 12:52:51 PM  

Rik01: Then, of course, are the comments written by average folks, who in reality are paid employees of a listed company, whose job is to fake being a user of a disputed product and deliver a glowing report.


Don't forget people paid by competing products to give scathing reviews.
 
2014-01-10 12:58:09 PM  

ReapTheChaos: You're assuming it will even go to court. The guy has several bad reviews, he's not suing any of them, he just wants to know who these anonymous reviewers are because he suspects they were never customers. If that's the case then they deserve to be sued.


You may want to review the information on this case a little more carefully. He has ALREADY filed.
"Hadeed sued them for making defamatory statements, according to Tuesday's court opinion." All seven of these people are ALREADY defendants.""[T]he Doe defendants have a constitutional right to speak anonymously over the Internet," Judge William Petty said for the majority . "However, that right must be balanced against Hadeed's right to protect its reputation." He has ALREADY filed suit against them. The decision with Yelp is simply a procedural decision about determing their identity.

This is not entirely uncommon, where you file a suit against parties to be determined - "The owner of this piece of land" is sued, and then they figure out who exactly that is. Or a suit against members of Anonymous, for instance. Or the infamous RIAA suits against john doe pirates, followed by IP based subpoenas. They are Doe defendants until identified, but they are already being sued. (They just don't know it yet)

Now, it is possible that some or all of these seven defendants will be able to verify that they did business with him, but that does not immediately release them from the case. They will still need to defend against the defamation claims, and can still be found guilty. Whether they are actual clients or not does not mean what they wrote was true or that it cannot be judged defamatory. (also even if they are NOT clients, they mat still not be found guilty of defamation). Either way, these seven people will be facing legal expenses, lost time and a great deal of stress.

So I'm afraid you are incorrect here. There is no assumption about whether it will go to court - it's already in court, and these people are already defendants.
 
2014-01-10 01:01:02 PM  

HindiDiscoMonster: I'll tell everyone who I am on the net:Herman Munster1313 Mockingbird LaneMockingbird Heights, OH 43616 (I always pick a random state and zipcode)xxx-555-1212 (I also pick the appropriate area code for the zipcode I use)


You are freeaking me out man. I use that EXACT same trick.
 
2014-01-10 01:01:47 PM  
This guy must have a crapload of money burning in his pocket. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning is the official rug cleaning service of the Washington Capitals and, runs 127+ commercials during one game.
 
2014-01-10 01:01:54 PM  

HindiDiscoMonster: I don't know where you are getting your apples, but please tell me where to buy 10lb apples.


I was illustrating the difference between facts and opinions. Not the difference between correct facts and incorrect facts.

Facts have the attribute of being verifiable. In this case, "the average weight of an apple is 10 pounds," would be an incorrect fact.
 
2014-01-10 01:02:41 PM  

StoPPeRmobile: What about fake reviews that are positive and lies?


Again, this is where a third party verifier could come in handy. At the same time that it provides the identities of fraudulent-and-negative reviewers for Hadeed to pursue, it could provide a list of fraudulent-but-positive reviews for Yelp to purge. Everyone wins, except the fraudsters.
 
2014-01-10 01:03:09 PM  

Rik01: Take everything you read with a grain of salt. Some things you might need a pound or so.


It would be very funny indeed if after all is said and done these defendants get slapped with a $1 fine for defamation. For the court to decide that measurable damages for a bad Yelp! review are effectively negligible, because no one attaches any significance to them anyway.
 
2014-01-10 01:04:43 PM  

JoieD'Zen: Unoriginal_Username: So, the owner is going on the assumption that because he reply's to comments by his customers, and that these specific ones were posted by anonymous users that they were not written by actual customers. So now he want's to sue for defamation.
What happens when he finds out that yes, they were customers who were pissed off and just didn't feel like creating an account on yelp? Do they get to counter sue?

In this case I agree with his ruling. Cyber defamation and bullying are out of control right now and people should be held accountable for the damage they cause.


Are you comparing the situation of cyberbullying a teenage girl to the point of suicide to "bullying"  a business.  Seriously?  Stop and think for a second just how absurd that comparison is.  Businesses need less protections and the individual people need more protections from businesses not the otherway around.    This is some multimillion dollar business trying to use the legal system to extort cash out of people for voicing their opinions.  It's still extortion when the RIAA does it, and its still extortion when any business does it.
 
2014-01-10 01:07:53 PM  

acohn: They require a user ID, even if it's Heywood Jablome. You cannot post entirely anonymously.


I use Gene Masseth.
 
2014-01-10 01:10:31 PM  

impaler: Rik01: Then, of course, are the comments written by average folks, who in reality are paid employees of a listed company, whose job is to fake being a user of a disputed product and deliver a glowing report.
Don't forget people paid by competing products to give scathing reviews.


Yes, there was a local story that reported a local restaurant had many bad reviews that were traced to a competitor down the street. These weren't chains, but Mom and Pops. Very nasty.

But you should be able to tell who they are in the future. They will add a line that talks about having a "friend" who had this happen to them. So they have an excuse why they are listed as a customer.
 
2014-01-10 01:17:51 PM  

HindiDiscoMonster: FTA: "false statements of fact"

hmmmm... I think maybe the judge should have stopped while he was ahead...


You should just learn what it means. Ignorance is never clever, cute or funny.
 
2014-01-10 01:32:50 PM  

HindiDiscoMonster: gshepnyc: HindiDiscoMonster: FTA: "false statements of fact"

hmmmm... I think maybe the judge should have stopped while he was ahead...

You should just learn what it means. Ignorance is never clever, cute or funny.

I think maybe you should read further in the thread before derping so hard... it will feel less like putting both boots down your throat via the rectum.


That was a stupid, unfunny line. You should feel bad for having typed it.
 
2014-01-10 01:39:36 PM  

Jim from Saint Paul: zeg: It so happens that a "statement of fact" is a technical legal term as well. The reason for this is obvious: legal proceedings hinge on disputed truths, and much of the process is to determine which claims are true and false. So you naturally get things like "findings of fact" and "statements of fact." Since it's impossible to know the "actual fact," "legal facts" wind up being rather different things that hopefully are mostly the same as the actual ones.

That's the part I wasn;t getting.

It's if I say "The ball is orange" and I think the ball is orange yet it's actually blue, that makes it a false statement.

If I say "The ball is orange" when I damn well know it's blue, that makes it a false staement of fact.

/right?


No.  That's just the difference between it being false because of deception and it being false because of misconception.

False but not statement of fact:  I like Walmart's potatoes.
False statement of fact:  I bought potatoes from Walmart yesterday.

Opinions, clear jokes, hyperbole, and writing intended to be taken as fiction are not statements of fact.  Though, that doesn't mean people won't mistakenly believe them (such as the Onion in reposts by random Facebook people).
 
2014-01-10 01:40:54 PM  

HindiDiscoMonster: /can't call something a fact if it is not in fact a fact.


"Statement of fact" is not "fact." "Statement of fact" means "statement that is not an opinion."

A true statement of fact is a fact. A false statement of fact is an untrue non-opinion. It may be a lie, or it may be an incorrect but honest belief.
 
2014-01-10 01:42:23 PM  
Yes, people leaving comments are not being nice, but Yelp is not an encyclopedia of truth; it's an advertising company with a weird creative team (anonymous-or-not voluntary posters), edited for profit by Yelp itself.

As long as it charges businesses a fee to remove "inaccurate" reviews, it is not unbiased, and all businesses and all consumers should treat Yelp info as seriously as the output of a poorly-designed pseudo-random number generator.

Yelp shakedown: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/eastbay/yelp-and-the-business-of-extort i on-20/Content?oid=1176635
Shakedown: http://blogs.findlaw.com/strategist/2013/08/yelp-shakedown-complaints - lawsuits-over-review-sites-practices.html
Shakedown: http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/bella/2012/05/yelp-extortionists-res t aurants-shakedown.php

Inverse Shakedown http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/blogs/editor/2012/05/the-yel p -extortion-scam.html

Basically, no information on the Internet can be believed unless you're on a secure session with a site whose certificate has not been rendered meaningless by a man-in-the-middle attack / spoofed DNS server / bogus certification / Nicholas Cage in a Bad Mood AND you've got strong reason to trust that site such as a signed legal agreement vetted by your lawyer.  Do not take my word on this, as I am actually a picture of a golden retriever on cheezburger, and as such I have a steak in this.
 
2014-01-10 01:49:27 PM  
"But Hadeed can't possibly prove that until he knows their identities, which requires a court to rule that First Amendment protections don't apply. "


I'm guessing the Gawker writer is not a lawyer...
 
2014-01-10 01:58:08 PM  

ErinPac: Jim from Saint Paul: zeg: It so happens that a "statement of fact" is a technical legal term as well. The reason for this is obvious: legal proceedings hinge on disputed truths, and much of the process is to determine which claims are true and false. So you naturally get things like "findings of fact" and "statements of fact." Since it's impossible to know the "actual fact," "legal facts" wind up being rather different things that hopefully are mostly the same as the actual ones.

That's the part I wasn;t getting.

It's if I say "The ball is orange" and I think the ball is orange yet it's actually blue, that makes it a false statement.

If I say "The ball is orange" when I damn well know it's blue, that makes it a false staement of fact.

/right?

No.  That's just the difference between it being false because of deception and it being false because of misconception.

False but not statement of fact:  I like Walmart's potatoes.
False statement of fact:  I bought potatoes from Walmart yesterday.

Opinions, clear jokes, hyperbole, and writing intended to be taken as fiction are not statements of fact.  Though, that doesn't mean people won't mistakenly believe them (such as the Onion in reposts by random Facebook people).


So the difference is whether you are suggesting action along with your false statement? Or is having an action just an easier way for you to explain it to me?

"F,BNSOF: I like Honey Boo Boo.
FSOF: I watched Honey Boo Boo yesterday."  ?
 
2014-01-10 02:01:28 PM  
Jim from Saint Paul:
That's the part I wasn;t getting.

It's if I say "The ball is orange" and I think the ball is orange yet it's actually blue, that makes it a false statement.

If I say "The ball is orange" when I damn well know it's blue, that makes it a false staement of fact.

/right?


that's exactly right, and even though ianal (*snerk* must have spent too much time in the farrah thread), i believe the reason for legal terms for "false statements" and false "statements of fact" involve perjury.  there's a difference between testimony being wrong because someone was unaware of the truth, and testimony being wrong because someone deliberately lied.
 
Ral
2014-01-10 02:05:39 PM  
People are surprised by this? Anyone who really believes in true anonymity on the internet is a sucker.
 
2014-01-10 02:08:45 PM  

ErinPac: Jim from Saint Paul: zeg: It so happens that a "statement of fact" is a technical legal term as well. The reason for this is obvious: legal proceedings hinge on disputed truths, and much of the process is to determine which claims are true and false. So you naturally get things like "findings of fact" and "statements of fact." Since it's impossible to know the "actual fact," "legal facts" wind up being rather different things that hopefully are mostly the same as the actual ones.

That's the part I wasn;t getting.

It's if I say "The ball is orange" and I think the ball is orange yet it's actually blue, that makes it a false statement.

If I say "The ball is orange" when I damn well know it's blue, that makes it a false staement of fact.

/right?

No.  That's just the difference between it being false because of deception and it being false because of misconception.

False but not statement of fact:  I like Walmart's potatoes.
False statement of fact:  I bought potatoes from Walmart yesterday.

Opinions, clear jokes, hyperbole, and writing intended to be taken as fiction are not statements of fact.  Though, that doesn't mean people won't mistakenly believe them (such as the Onion in reposts by random Facebook people).


"i like walmart's potatoes"  is an "i" statement... of a personal fact...
the clear jokes, hyperbole and fictional statements i'll give you, but opinions are divided between statements of fact and, say, an editorial on how a certain law could help/hurt the economy...
 
2014-01-10 02:28:45 PM  

Doc Batarang: Over the years I've worked in restaurants, we've used negative reviews as fire to become totally unimpeachable and excellent. If there was an aspect of the review we could change, we did it for everybody. Some people are a little intimidated by the notion of a live conversation, so they post online because it makes them more comfortable. Reviews are a good source of information because of that. If it was just complaining, people who came into the place would know the reviewer was a nut job because of how good it actually was.
My current boss posts her personal email address on all the local ones.
This carpet cleaning business should use this opportunity to get better at cleaning carpets.


It looks like this person may have been the victim of a "negative SEO" operation, a sort of online protection racket. A group claiming to be a legitimate Search Engine Optimizer requests/demands a recurring payment of money in order to "protect your online reputation". If you refuse, they publish negative reviews about your company in various third-party websites in an effort to hurt your business or to encourage your participation. Generally these efforts are clumsy, arrive in clusters, and are easy to spot (like complaining about the quality of fried fish served by Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, for example: they only serve shrimp), and the rug fellow will probably discover that all of the bad reviews came from the same IP Address.
 
2014-01-10 02:34:03 PM  
So, if I get on Hadeed's web site, and post the comment, "Don't post negative comments, or this guy will sue you" can I be sued?
 
2014-01-10 02:49:00 PM  

cynicalminion: "i like walmart's potatoes" is an "i" statement... of a personal fact...
the clear jokes, hyperbole and fictional statements i'll give you, but opinions are divided between statements of fact and, say, an editorial on how a certain law could help/hurt the economy...


https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation

This is the context the discussion was in...  and "I like..." is very similar to their example of "I hate..." as an opinion.

An opinion cannot be a legal statement of fact by definition.  It may be a fact in the collquial sense that it is true (or not), but assuming you meant that use of the word 'fact' would also be assuming you didn't read the thread....

A statment of fact must be both verifiable and be intended to be accepted as truth.  Things such as satire are protected because they are not intended to be believed.  Opinions are protected because they are not verifiable, and instead are subjective views.

Perhaps this would help:  http://www.studyzone.org/testprep/ela4/a/factopinionl.cfm
 
2014-01-10 02:54:06 PM  
Dude shoulda just paid for the Yelp advertising... the reviews would have magically vanished.

/Yelp is a scam
//Stop using it
 
2014-01-10 03:01:37 PM  

ErinPac: cynicalminion: "i like walmart's potatoes" is an "i" statement... of a personal fact...
the clear jokes, hyperbole and fictional statements i'll give you, but opinions are divided between statements of fact and, say, an editorial on how a certain law could help/hurt the economy...

https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation

This is the context the discussion was in...  and "I like..." is very similar to their example of "I hate..." as an opinion.

An opinion cannot be a legal statement of fact by definition.  It may be a fact in the collquial sense that it is true (or not), but assuming you meant that use of the word 'fact' would also be assuming you didn't read the thread....

A statment of fact must be both verifiable and be intended to be accepted as truth.  Things such as satire are protected because they are not intended to be believed.  Opinions are protected because they are not verifiable, and instead are subjective views.

Perhaps this would help:  http://www.studyzone.org/testprep/ela4/a/factopinionl.cfm


ok.  makes more sense, although outside a legal perspective, i would still say that "i like...", "i hate..." etc. is still a statement intended to be accepted as fact unless one of the other conditions (i.e. satire, blatant trolling, etc.) exists, simply because there's no way to prove it to be false unless the person stating it then admits they were lying... whereas the broader opinions i mentioned can be openly debated...
 
2014-01-10 03:12:26 PM  
so, in this case, would that mean what the judge is saying is that the reviews in question are not opinions, but statements of fact, and therefore, if the reviewer did not actually have any interaction with the business, they are false statements of fact, and therefore defamatory?

'cuz that sounds pretty logical to me...
 
2014-01-10 03:23:45 PM  

cynicalminion: Jim from Saint Paul:
That's the part I wasn;t getting.

It's if I say "The ball is orange" and I think the ball is orange yet it's actually blue, that makes it a false statement.

If I say "The ball is orange" when I damn well know it's blue, that makes it a false staement of fact.

/right?

that's exactly right, and even though ianal (*snerk* must have spent too much time in the farrah thread), i believe the reason for legal terms for "false statements" and false "statements of fact" involve perjury.  there's a difference between testimony being wrong because someone was unaware of the truth, and testimony being wrong because someone deliberately lied.


perjury is a different issue.  perjury occurs when you make a statement that you know or should have known is false, when said, while under oath (so, in a courtroom or during a deposition, or other time while under oath, includes some statements made to government agencies).

defamation is a tort.  the legal terminology makes more sense if you divide the phrase "false" and "statement of fact". it has two elements.

1) It's false because it's untrue
2) It's a statement of fact because it relates to an issue of fact, not an issue of opinion.

it's a "false statement of fact" because it is (1) an untrue statement (2) regarding an issue of fact.

compare: Pute uses margarine when he makes new orleans style barbecue shrimp.  versus, it tastes like Pute uses margarine when he makes new orleans style barbecue shrimp.

both statements are false.  Pute uses butter, and would pity the fool who suggests otherwise.  But, one statement represents an issue of fact.  the other statement represents an opinion (which is ok, since no one knows my top secret recipe for new orleans style barbecue shrimp.  not even Pute.  it's different every time.  but, it is a fact that Pute uses butter, not margarine).

statements of opinion are not actionable, while statements of fact that are false are generally actionable.
 
2014-01-10 03:35:40 PM  

ErinPac: Perhaps this would help:  http://www.studyzone.org/testprep/ela4/a/factopinionl.cfm


FTFA: "These are Opinions: I believe ice cream is everyone's favorite food."

While everyone's "favorite" food is a matter of opinion, the number people with an opinion can be counted and verified.

Granted, the example says "I believe," so it's the person's opinion about the truth of a fact, but this makes it a rather bad example.
 
2014-01-10 03:36:26 PM  

cynicalminion: ErinPac: cynicalminion: "i like walmart's potatoes" is an "i" statement... of a personal fact...
the clear jokes, hyperbole and fictional statements i'll give you, but opinions are divided between statements of fact and, say, an editorial on how a certain law could help/hurt the economy...

https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/defamation

This is the context the discussion was in...  and "I like..." is very similar to their example of "I hate..." as an opinion.

An opinion cannot be a legal statement of fact by definition.  It may be a fact in the collquial sense that it is true (or not), but assuming you meant that use of the word 'fact' would also be assuming you didn't read the thread....

A statment of fact must be both verifiable and be intended to be accepted as truth.  Things such as satire are protected because they are not intended to be believed.  Opinions are protected because they are not verifiable, and instead are subjective views.

Perhaps this would help:  http://www.studyzone.org/testprep/ela4/a/factopinionl.cfm

ok.  makes more sense, although outside a legal perspective, i would still say that "i like...", "i hate..." etc. is still a statement intended to be accepted as fact unless one of the other conditions (i.e. satire, blatant trolling, etc.) exists, simply because there's no way to prove it to be false unless the person stating it then admits they were lying... whereas the broader opinions i mentioned can be openly debated...


Outside a legal perspective, the first things I found googling fact and opinion were elementry school worksheets showing the difference.  An opinion is not a fact.  The only way it is a "fact" is if you've skewed the definition of fact so far from its actual meaning that you are just using it to mean 'true'.  Even then something isn't true JUST because you cannot prove it is false.

I might state opinion <x>.  Whether you agree that I actually hold opinion <x> does not make it a fact or not, and has no bearing on whether it is true or false.  It merely means you have the opinion that I have opinion <x> (or not x).  Would it help if "I like" were rephrased as "I think favorably about" ?  It isn't the same as "I have brown hair".  Even if every person in the world shared an opinion on something, and accepted it unquestionably, it would still be an opinion.

Even the distinction you make about opinion articles seems to be an odd distinction.  I don't see how being a more interesting debate would really change what sort of statement something was.  Also, being subjective and not provable as false is exactly counter to something being a fact, so that's a poor reason.  Actually, the longer opinion articles are more likely to contain facts which they base their opinions on, or present their opinions as conclusions based on facts, which is what makes them debatable... and also more open to libel suits, which was pointed out in that first link.  You debate facts and conclusions based on those facts - you don't generally debate about jokes, or the Onion, or subjective opinions (well, unless you consider things like hot dog topping threads to be debate).  Finding those articles to be more 'debatable' would actually lead me to conclude they make MORE claims of facts than normal opinions.  Even if it were controversial....  you can have controversial facts and controversial opinions, and it doesn't make one into the other.
 
2014-01-10 03:45:07 PM  

cynicalminion: Jim from Saint Paul:
That's the part I wasn;t getting.

It's if I say "The ball is orange" and I think the ball is orange yet it's actually blue, that makes it a false statement.

If I say "The ball is orange" when I damn well know it's blue, that makes it a false staement of fact.

/right?

that's exactly right, and even though ianal (*snerk* must have spent too much time in the farrah thread), i believe the reason for legal terms for "false statements" and false "statements of fact" involve perjury.  there's a difference between testimony being wrong because someone was unaware of the truth, and testimony being wrong because someone deliberately lied.


I think you're looking for 'libel', 'slander', or 'defamation' and not 'perjury'.  Perjury has to do with lying under oath.  His first example isn't even lying - it's just incorrect.

There is sometimes another word combined with "false statment of fact" in regards to those sort of suits...  KNOWINGLY false statement of fact.  In addition to being a false statement of fact, there are usually requirements that the person knows it is false, causes damages, and if the target is a public figure it must also be done with malice.
 
2014-01-10 03:49:44 PM  

ErinPac: *clipped for sizing*


i guess what i meant by two categories of opinion is that i have no way of arguing over what you like or don't like.  however, if you say "obamacare is ruining small businesses", that's an opinion you can state, and you have your reasoning for saying so, and anyone who disagrees with that can present their own reasonings against it, and nobody is in any danger of defamation without stooping to personal attacks...

as i said, this thread has gone back and forth between legal terms and colloquial terms, and they're definitely two separate definitions.  but this judge is talking about false "statements of fact" which is exactly how he should be describing them...
 
2014-01-10 03:54:36 PM  

ErinPac: cynicalminion: Jim from Saint Paul:
That's the part I wasn;t getting.

It's if I say "The ball is orange" and I think the ball is orange yet it's actually blue, that makes it a false statement.

If I say "The ball is orange" when I damn well know it's blue, that makes it a false staement of fact.

/right?

that's exactly right, and even though ianal (*snerk* must have spent too much time in the farrah thread), i believe the reason for legal terms for "false statements" and false "statements of fact" involve perjury.  there's a difference between testimony being wrong because someone was unaware of the truth, and testimony being wrong because someone deliberately lied.

I think you're looking for 'libel', 'slander', or 'defamation' and not 'perjury'.  Perjury has to do with lying under oath.  His first example isn't even lying - it's just incorrect.

There is sometimes another word combined with "false statment of fact" in regards to those sort of suits...  KNOWINGLY false statement of fact.  In addition to being a false statement of fact, there are usually requirements that the person knows it is false, causes damages, and if the target is a public figure it must also be done with malice.


i guess i was coming from the standpoint of having these statements made in the courtroom, and being the difference between just being wrong while under oath, or deliberately lying under oath... and i guess in the context of this story, what he's going for here is that they're fake reviews, knowingly posted, with the intent of damaging his (public) business.  and if, as others have suggested, these reviews were posted by someone associated with a competitor, that's exactly what happened.
 
2014-01-10 03:57:07 PM  

cynicalminion: ErinPac: *clipped for sizing*

i guess what i meant by two categories of opinion is that i have no way of arguing over what you like or don't like.  however, if you say "obamacare is ruining small businesses", that's an opinion you can state, and you have your reasoning for saying so, and anyone who disagrees with that can present their own reasonings against it, and nobody is in any danger of defamation without stooping to personal attacks...

as i said, this thread has gone back and forth between legal terms and colloquial terms, and they're definitely two separate definitions.  but this judge is talking about false "statements of fact" which is exactly how he should be describing them...


also, that's whole other bag of bananas, because obamacare is a public issue.  the first amendment comes into play regarding public issues and public figures.  now I would have to show actual malice (that you knew the statement was false, or you made the statement with reckless disregard for the truth AND I have to prove actual damages, nothing is presumed).

so, even if the statement was false.  what damages can i prove?  none.
 
2014-01-10 04:01:09 PM  

impaler: ErinPac: Perhaps this would help:  http://www.studyzone.org/testprep/ela4/a/factopinionl.cfm

FTFA: "These are Opinions: I believe ice cream is everyone's favorite food."

While everyone's "favorite" food is a matter of opinion, the number people with an opinion can be counted and verified.

Granted, the example says "I believe," so it's the person's opinion about the truth of a fact, but this makes it a rather bad example.


Seriously?  Can you see the colored text on that page?  They turned all the nice subjective words blue for you, including the word believe.  Then they wrote "An OPINION is what someone believes or thinks."  It's a second grade worksheet.  Didn't you run into this sort of thing in school, maybe before your first science fair or something?

Also, no, the number of people with an opinion can not be "verified", even if that were the statement.  You can take a poll, but that's simply a list of people's statements about their opinions, with no indication of whether they are true or false.  People indicate false opinions all the time; I'm sure you've seen polls that do not correlate with people's actions (such as some political polls, or religious polls vs actual church attendance, etc).  It doesn't become fact because you added numbers.  Your opinion about other people's opinions, is still an opinion.  It does not work like a double negative.  Such a strong absolute isn't very believable, but that doesn't change whether it is an opinion.  Everyone/Noone statements are usually unlikely.... but it not materially different from saying "30% of people's favorite food is ice cream."  and then what do you do?  You poll people, and just assume that every fat person who says their favorite food is salad or grapefruit is telling the truth, and that the number is 20% as a "fact"?  No, you didn't actually find out that only 20% have ice cream as their favorite food.  You found out that 20% are willing to claim ice cream is their favorite food.  Now you might say 20% of people polled SAY their favorite food is ice cream.  That would be entirely different.


Not sure if trolling at this point....
 
2014-01-10 04:06:04 PM  

ErinPac: Not sure if trolling at this point....


don't believe there's trolling going on, just an expanding gray area where the lines are between fact/statement of fact/statement of opinion/opinion are, and whether they're even in the same place once you hit the courtroom...
 
2014-01-10 04:26:49 PM  

cynicalminion: ErinPac: Not sure if trolling at this point....

don't believe there's trolling going on, just an expanding gray area where the lines are between fact/statement of fact/statement of opinion/opinion are, and whether they're even in the same place once you hit the courtroom...


The second grade worksheet wasn't court room level.


No, I know it's not trolling... it is just that people have stretched the word so far into the realm of meaningless...  it simply doesn't mean whether you agree with something or not.  It does take on the additional implication that a statement be intended to be taken as true in court but that's not even where half the posts seem to be stalled at.  It's people using "fact" to mean "something I agree with".  Facts and opinions are usually covered as a basic part of the scientific method covered in elementry school.  Then its covered again and again for reading comprehension and analysis.  Then again for writing research papers and determining what needs citations.  Even considering colloquial speech, this is some sort of bastardization of an English word that I hadn't really run into except in some sort of valley-girl-esque speech and did not realize people really used without the accompanying hair flick.  I've only heard it taken that way in seriously corny, outdated TV shows and even then it just seems to be for emphasis (and that's a fact!) and not for any literal meaning.

It's just a little depressing, in the same way that really bad statistical interpretations are, when the media uses them to make all their puppets dance.
 
2014-01-10 04:49:01 PM  

ErinPac: cynicalminion: ErinPac: Not sure if trolling at this point....

don't believe there's trolling going on, just an expanding gray area where the lines are between fact/statement of fact/statement of opinion/opinion are, and whether they're even in the same place once you hit the courtroom...

The second grade worksheet wasn't court room level.


No, I know it's not trolling... it is just that people have stretched the word so far into the realm of meaningless...  it simply doesn't mean whether you agree with something or not.  It does take on the additional implication that a statement be intended to be taken as true in court but that's not even where half the posts seem to be stalled at.  It's people using "fact" to mean "something I agree with".  Facts and opinions are usually covered as a basic part of the scientific method covered in elementry school.  Then its covered again and again for reading comprehension and analysis.  Then again for writing research papers and determining what needs citations.  Even considering colloquial speech, this is some sort of bastardization of an English word that I hadn't really run into except in some sort of valley-girl-esque speech and did not realize people really used without the accompanying hair flick.  I've only heard it taken that way in seriously corny, outdated TV shows and even then it just seems to be for emphasis (and that's a fact!) and not for any literal meaning.

It's just a little depressing, in the same way that really bad statistical interpretations are, when the media uses them to make all their puppets dance.


i think that's the biggest part of the problem... determining at what point you enter the realm of "deliberate misinformation" by stating opinions in such a manner that they will be accepted as fact...  as it is, in this particular case, the judge obviously thinks the statements are worth looking into before either hearing or tossing this lawsuit.  and, since it HAS hit the courtroom, the judge's opinion becomes statement of law... (which can of course, be appealed, but that's kinda irrelevant)
 
2014-01-10 05:39:15 PM  
I agree with the judge, on this very specific case.  If the guy can prove based on what they posted that they were never customers of his, and that he has been defamed by it, they shouldn't be allowed to continue on without punishment.

For instance, if I get on Yelp, or any of the other similar sites, and troll a dry cleaning company by posting "I took four Armani suits to this place yesterday and they destroyed all of them and refused to compensate me for them," and the company can prove that they did not take in any Armani suits that day, and that no suits were damaged at all, then why should the person posting be allowed protection by the first amendment?

Now, if after revealing the identies of the person, it turns out their posts were true, then they should be dropped immediately from the suit.

Online review sites make it all too easy for competing businesses to make up user names and post negative reviews about companies offering similar services, thus making theirs more appealling.
 
2014-01-10 05:48:56 PM  

StainedGlassRuby: unsatisfied customers should file complaint with business owner before just yelping about it.


Do you think businesses actually care if you complain in person? They will still continue their crap food/service whether you complain or not. I always complain in person if I'm not satisfied, and it doesn't do a thing. Now, public shaming on the other hand, seems to get their attention.

umad: It isn't about resolution. It is about protecting other people from wasting their money in your shiatty business.


Agreed.
 
2014-01-10 07:03:25 PM  

Fancourt: Doc Batarang: Over the years I've worked in restaurants, we've used negative reviews as fire to become totally unimpeachable and excellent. If there was an aspect of the review we could change, we did it for everybody. Some people are a little intimidated by the notion of a live conversation, so they post online because it makes them more comfortable. Reviews are a good source of information because of that. If it was just complaining, people who came into the place would know the reviewer was a nut job because of how good it actually was.
My current boss posts her personal email address on all the local ones.
This carpet cleaning business should use this opportunity to get better at cleaning carpets.

It looks like this person may have been the victim of a "negative SEO" operation, a sort of online protection racket. A group claiming to be a legitimate Search Engine Optimizer requests/demands a recurring payment of money in order to "protect your online reputation". If you refuse, they publish negative reviews about your company in various third-party websites in an effort to hurt your business or to encourage your participation. Generally these efforts are clumsy, arrive in clusters, and are easy to spot (like complaining about the quality of fried fish served by Giovanni's Shrimp Truck, for example: they only serve shrimp), and the rug fellow will probably discover that all of the bad reviews came from the same IP Address.


That's very possible. Plus if that's the case there's more than just a defamation suit. Those SEOs would have committed an act of extortion and could face criminal proaecution. They could also get prosecuted under RICO regulations. But law enforcement doesn't seem that interested in going after these types of cases.
 
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