LegalWorks Apostolate - Counsel for a Culture of Life

Accountability in Online Expression

By Patricia Pitkus Bainbridge

In my posting last week entitled "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," I alluded to the problems associated with the pervasive "anonymous" blog commenters. Many ugly things have been said behind the fa├žade of "anonymous" or any of the other pseudonyms used by individuals opining on blogs.

I've often wondered why a person submitting a letter to the editor for print media must have their identification verified and yet, online, one can post with virtually no verification of who they are.

At the end of my post last week, I suggested that "perhaps we need to figure out a way to eliminate anonymity that tends to encourage incivility." While incivility is problematic, defamation and slander also occur all too frequently. Unfortunately, individuals and organizations may be harmed by these defamatory or slanderous comments from people hiding behind their anonymity.

Today, court rulings in Indiana may begin the process of more accountability in online expression.

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