A Philadelphia court has ordered philly.com, a website to reveal the name of an anonymous commenter, for his defamatory comments on electricians’ union leader John Dougherty, triggering new move on online comments and their anonymity.
The user made a comment anonymously known as “trolls” with a fictious name “fbpdplt,” and called Dougherty in Philly.com, owned by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News.
Though the website is not a party to the suit, it received a subpoena. The anaonymous commenter’s attorney, Phil Blackman, argued that identifying his client would violate his, or her, First Ammendment right to remain anonymous.
The court’s move is a strong pointer that anonymity does not mean immunity under defamation law.
The move by the court also signals all the commenters around the world to be more responsible when “they are posting comments, particularly when they are attempting to do so in an anonymous capacity.”
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