In an unsolicited media blitz, I had three reporters call me yesterday about three different stories. The second was about a facebook group that popped up in the wake of a series of unsolved sexual assaults in Carman, Alberta. The group, called "Kiss my ass, Carman rapist", included speculation on who might be a suspect. I understand that the group has since been removed, but it raises the usual internet defamation issues:
Town gossip over sex assaults hits Facebook
... David Fraser, a Halifax lawyer who specializes in privacy and Internet law, said a host of legal issues arise when water-cooler chats move to the Net.
"What was a small conversation in the drug store or at the post office is now being broadcast globally," he said.
Fraser said anyone naming "suspects" or calling someone a rapist online is opening themselves to a potential lawsuit.
"The rules of defamation that apply in the real world also apply online," he said.
"The anonymity of the Internet ... actually makes it easier to say things that perhaps they wouldn't say in front of a crowded auditorium full of people, although there's probably more people seeing it online."