Friday, April 16, 2010

Crawl out from under your rock

I usually don't agree with judges who order news media to reveal their sources.

But I do support a ruling that Internet anonymity is not absolute, made by a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on April 14, 2010.

The judge ordered Google and The Coast, a weekly newspaper, to reveal to Halifax firefighters the identities and IP addresses of seven people who allegedly defamed them in anonymous comments on The Coast's website.

Whether or not a court finds that any comment in this case was defamatory, the ruling highlights the unfairness of anonymous comments.

Why should I be able to publish online any opinion of you that I feel like, and then hide under my rock of anonymity?

In a broadcast or print format I would have to identify myself, and rightly so.

And no, I still don't think news media should be forced to reveal their anonymous sources.

There is a clear distinction. Battles over anonymous sources involve facts that the sources provide, which are then checked by journalists before broadcast or publication.

Most anonymous web comments are notably fact-free. They are opinions, often breathtakingly ignorant ones.

Unlike mine, of course.

2 comments:

  1. News papers user online user comments to add color commentary and 3rd party information to their articles ... for free no less. I wonder if there "commenters" can hide behind the whistle blowers ast somehow

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  2. So true! The comments section of newspaper websites infuriate me so much sometimes because nobody in their right mind would ever be that amazingly rude and ignorant if they had to use their real names.

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