Jump to content

Cre8asiteforums Internet Marketing
and Conversion Web Design


Photo

Question About Forum Member's Privacy


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 beaniegirl

beaniegirl

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 18 August 2009 - 11:18 AM

Hello everyone.

I'm currently running a relatively newish forum and am having a situation over two squabbling members. My question here is...

If one member gives out their personal details to another member, and after falling out, the other member posts the first member's details, can the first member take any legal action against the second member?

I was under the impression that members are responsible for their own privacy, however this member is threatening to take the issue to the authorities.

I have removed the offending post but I'd like to know what legal implications there are, if any, for future reference.

Thanks :)

Oops, I think I've posted this in the wrong section. I think it should be in the Law and Ethics forum.

Sorry guys.

#2 bwelford

bwelford

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 8995 posts

Posted 18 August 2009 - 11:36 AM

Welcome to the Forums, beaniegirl. :wave:

In that you removed the offending item as quickly as you could, I think you have discharged your obligations. I do not see how anyone would have legal recourse against you. The real conflict is directly between the two members.

#3 joedolson

joedolson

    Eyes Like Hawk Moderator

  • Technical Administrators
  • 2902 posts

Posted 18 August 2009 - 12:31 PM

It can be good to establish fixed policies concerning personal information. In this forum, the moderators automatically remove any private information as soon as it shows up. To avoid that kind of issue, we make a point of preventing private information from being available. It's not perfect, since we can't always get things immediately, but there have been occasions where it's been important.

I agree with Barry that you've discharged your obligations -- you can be held responsible, in theory, for the information posted publically in your forums, so removing the offending post was an important thing for you to do. However, having done that, your legal obligations should be readily defensible (if it comes to that.)

You may want to check with Google and request that any cache of the page be wiped, as well, however, if you're concerned about protecting yourself further.

In answer to your first question -- yes, absolutely. The first member can take action against the second member. It's debatable whether their legal action will actually succeed, but they can certainly initiate a suit.

#4 Michael_Martinez

Michael_Martinez

    Time Traveler Member

  • 1000 Post Club
  • 1354 posts

Posted 18 August 2009 - 02:42 PM

If you're in the United States, you cannot be held legally responsible for the actions of your forum members, according to the Communications Decency Act of 1996. However, a privacy policy and posting policy would be a very good investment on your part as you moderate your community's behavior.

Sooner or later, any successful forum has to recruit moderators to help keep an eye on things. Having written guidelines for them to refer to is a very good practice.

At SF-Fandom we give our moderators considerable leeway in deciding what they'll allow in the forums they watch over, but they also agree to abide by and enforce our core posting guidelines (which deal mostly with abusive behaviors) as well as our privacy policy.

#5 beaniegirl

beaniegirl

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 18 August 2009 - 05:34 PM

Thank you all for replying.

I thought there were no legal implications if the person, who's personal details have been revealed, is responsible for revealing them herself. I understand that someone could be liable if personal information was leaked via an admin or someone 'hacking' or 'cracking' into their account, but if the said person had a bit too much to drink one night and told a few people her name in a chat rooms, and has told a few other people her name in PM, then later someone googled, found information and posted it, then that person has no legal leg to stand on.

Am I completely wrong here?

#6 Michael_Martinez

Michael_Martinez

    Time Traveler Member

  • 1000 Post Club
  • 1354 posts

Posted 19 August 2009 - 03:56 PM

Under current United States law you CANNOT be held liable for anything your forum posters publish on your forum.

You can, however, be subpoenaed to provide information about those people by courts and law enforcement agencies (that just happened to Google over someone who made defamatory remarks on a Blogspot blog).

In the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth nations it's easier for injured parties to hold service providers responsible (or, at least, it was when I had to take action against a university in the UK about six years ago).

If you want legal advice, however, you should confer with a licensed, practicing attorney.

Edited by Michael_Martinez, 19 August 2009 - 03:56 PM.


#7 beaniegirl

beaniegirl

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:19 PM

No one's really answering my question.

I'm not asking whether my forum is liable or whether admin is liable or accountable. I'm asking if the man who provided the details about the woman is liable, even if the woman passed on her details to people in private, or in a chat room, herself, while intoxited.

If I don't know the answer to this question as admin, how am I supposed to write up a privacy policy or give out any advice to members when something like this does occur. I don't know whether I should tell the woman that it's her fault for blabbing her details to people in PM or in chat rooms attached to forums, or whether I should tell her to seek profession legal advice that would probably cost her money.... wasted money?

Surely long-standing forum admins have had some experience in a situation like this one.

This is exactly what has happened:

A woman in the forum has shared private details about herself in the forum's chatbox and has given some members her facebook details which have her name on the account. She then fell out with a member, who passed on her details around to other members in private PM. One member googled her name and found a video interview she did on a popular News site. This news/video link has both her name and place of work, This member then passed on the details around via PMs. One of the members posted the details on the forum as well as on another forum, where the information can still be found.

Should the woman take legal action against the man for posting it or is it her fault for being so open with other members? In my opinion it's the latter but I've had no experience in this so I'm asking the opinion of anyone that has. I'm quite aware that there are no legal professionals on this site but there is a Law and Ethics forum (which this thread probably belongs in) and probably forum admins that have come across a situation as this one.

#8 jonbey

jonbey

    Eyes Like Hawk Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4293 posts

Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:36 PM

If the information that they eventually gathered is all in the public domain then I fail to see how she can make a case against these people. If they committed slander then that maybe different, but if they are just sharing a video / place of work information that is available online, then well, um, dunno. What's the deal?

A more interesting question sprung to my mind - how do you know that this was passed around via PM's? Do you read members PM's? If so, is this mentioned in the privacy/tos on your site?

#9 bwelford

bwelford

    Peacekeeper Administrator

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 8995 posts

Posted 19 August 2009 - 04:45 PM

A woman in the forum has shared private details about herself in the forum's chatbox and has given some members her facebook details which have her name on the account.

That is the crux of the situation, beaniegirl. In essence she has made information public. There is nothing that she could have said that would have limited the public nature of what she divulged. I can't see that it needs any action or even policy statement on the part of the Forum.

#10 beaniegirl

beaniegirl

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:18 PM

Thank you for your thoughts, that's what I thought, but I had a few people in my ear trying to convince me that this woman herself isn't to blame.


Jonbey, I know about the PMs because other members on my forum who had seen the video were discussing the video on other forums and mentioned how they received the link. Then other members asked if they can PM the link to them as well. This was prior to the link being posted anywhere on any forum. I'm not sure if there was "slander" regarding the video or her personal information but there had been slander prior to this from both parties over photos etc. They did comment on the video and say things like "she's not a very good public speaker" and that she sounded frantic etc, while others provided positive feedback about it.

You would think these people were adolescents the way they behave online but surprisingly they're all middle-aged people with adolescents.

Thanks again for you comments.

Edited by beaniegirl, 19 August 2009 - 06:21 PM.


#11 jonbey

jonbey

    Eyes Like Hawk Moderator

  • Moderators
  • 4293 posts

Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:23 PM

I guess this all comes under the banner of "reputation management". So long as you make it clear to her that you have cleaned up the site, warned users (maybe) etc. then you should be OK. This sort of thing probably happens a lot. Some forums are full of these "trolls", "flamers" and who knows what else (I only recently learnt about these things myself!).

#12 beaniegirl

beaniegirl

    Unlurked Energy

  • Members
  • 8 posts

Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:33 PM

Yes, I'm still learning these things myself :)

Thank you kindly for your advice.

#13 Respree

Respree

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 5901 posts

Posted 20 August 2009 - 08:34 AM

Here is one example of what "can" happen in the legal world, which is similar (although not exactly) to your situation.

#14 cre8pc

cre8pc

    Dream Catcher Forums Founder

  • Admin - Top Level
  • 13362 posts

Posted 20 August 2009 - 08:05 PM

I can't recall anything like that happening here...

My feeling, as Admin/Founder, is that everyone is responsible for themselves and I'm not a babysitter, nor are the Moderators. People do come here drunk and post, but we typically know them and it rarely gets out of hand. If anyone does show bizarre behavior, we pull the post/thread or ask the member to clean up their part.

If someone acts immaturely and gets into a situation with another member, either publicly or privately via PM, its none of my concern unless it hits the Boards. At that point, what they do disrupts The House. We consider that unfriendly behavior and pretty much, if someone can not handle themselves as a decent guest, they are removed from the Forums.

You, of course, are not responsible for the antics of your members.

If someone feels they have been exposed or violated, such as their personal info being leaked, there are things to do such as contacting the offending person's host and reporting their actions. Cyberstalking is against the law most everywhere and reportable to the police.

#15 swainzy

swainzy

    Honored One Who Served Moderator Alumni

  • Hall Of Fame
  • 3316 posts

Posted 21 August 2009 - 10:02 AM

People do come here drunk and post

:drunk:
Gee, I didn't think anyone could tell when I when I was hammered. ;-)



RSS Feed

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users