Discussion Board Thread conspired to Hack my Board

Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2005 03:27 pm
Friday I was getting a ton of traffic to my site. A ton of people were coming onto my discussion board, all posting anti-Mormon hate-speech in random places all over my board. They were obviously educated and organized. I looked at my log and saw that they were all coming from [a very famous anti-Mormon site]. When I clicked on the link from the log, I was taken to a long discussion board thread, with posts like "let's see if we can make this guy cry," and "let's all go onto that board, sign in under fake names, and stage a fake debate between the Mormons (us) and the anti-Mormons (us.) Then we can be sure to win!" They tore into me and my family and my wife's family, even the children, and by name! Anyway, it's hate-speech and I presume some sort of hate crime. I mean, it took me 10 hours to clean up all their posts, and my host called this morning saying he'd been getting DoS attacks all weekend.

Yes, I moderate my board and I understand all that's part of the game of having a popular board. But Friday I emailed the owner of the board and threatened to sue him, who immediately took down the entire thread. Now, this morning (Tuesday), I get an email from him saying "I put your thread back up. I have decided that my freedom of speech trumps your logic, and I encourage you to take any legal action you feel is appropriate. We have no control over what goes on on our boards, and we are all run by volunteers, so you have no recourse against us."

My entire concern isn't that I had to clean up my boards; it's that in three weeks, when you google by my mother in law's name, all you'll see is some guy writing about how she's an idiot and how ugly she is. It means my site is, for a while, ruined, because 300 hate-speech trolls attacked my site. Sure, they're fading away, but I still want them to take down that thread.

So, tell me, lawyers, how do I get them to take down that thread?
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Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2005 03:41 pm
The fact that they are run by volunteers doesn't mean that there is no recourse in itself. Volunteers can be sued just like anyone else.

But to do anything you have to find some sort of legal grounds for a complaint and it has to be something more than "I don't like what they said about me.".

One thing you didn't make clear here - Is this thread you are concerned about with the names of your family members on your board or some other board?

If it's your board then obvioulsy you have some control over it. If it's their board (which I'm guessing it is) then the 1st step would be to check their site's Terms of Service. They can claim Freedom of Speech all they want but if they are violating their own TOS the claim gets pretty weak in a hurry. That's where I'd start.
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Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2005 04:27 pm
Their terms of service:

This site (--------.---) is a privately owned Bulletin Board. The owner(s) reserve the right to delete or edit any post for any reason, even if said post appears to conform to the specified guidelines below.

The following will not be permitted without the EXPRESS PERMISSION of the site owner: requests for email addresses, requests for individuals to email the poster; advertising of any kind (commercial or otherwise); interview requests; links to other websites; etc. This list is not meant to be exclusive. Even if owner grants permission, he may revoke said permission at any time and without notice. Please contact administrators of --------.--- before making such requests.

Due to copyright considerations please post links to articles and do NOT copy the articles themselves. I few sentences from an article is ok, as long as you credit the source, but wholesale copying is not proper even if the source is acknowledged. Unfortunately, posts that contain all (or almost all) of an article will be deleted.

All information, posts, links, stories, etc. found on this site are the express copyright of the owner and may not be used in any manner without the owners express permission. Anyone posting anything on this site expressly grants the sites owner to use said post, with accompanying information, in any manner that the owner desires.

The owner of this site makes no warranties or representations of any kind and expressly states that he/she is not responsible for any postings or representations made on this site . . . even if they violate the posted guidelinesand are not deleted by owner.

This site's purpose is to let people who are, or were, in Mormonism know that they are not alone in their feelings and experiences or in their quests to regain their lives after years in this religion. We have e-mail groups to join, bulletin boards, gatherings and individuals to help with a transition to a post-Mormon life. We advocate no specific religious preference or religious activities after Mormonism. Our active participants are diverse and from differing cultural backgrounds throughout the world.

Our forum is a public place. If you wouldn't say it in the grocery store, don't say it here. Kindly warn in the subject line if there is strong language in the message that might offend. Please do not use vulgar language in the subject line.

Consider alternate views as valid, valued and recognized. Please respect the views of others. Disagree, don't attack.

To conserve band width, please keep the subject line short

When in doubt, DON'T.

This is not a debate board for Mormons to defend the faith. Mormons have many other venues to debate and proclaim their religion. Please allow us our little corner of cyberspace. This board is for those who were once believers and for their friends, families and interested individuals to learn of the cultural aspects of Mormonism.

Please - no preaching!! This is not a forum to convert others to another faith. The focus here is on recovery.

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Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2005 04:28 pm
Oh, and the posts about members of my wife's family was on their site, not mine.

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Reply Tue 5 Jul, 2005 04:40 pm
You could make the argument that they used to thread to conspire to launch denial of service attacks (hacking) against your site. I'm not sure who you'd take that to, maybe your host.
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Craven de Kere
Reply Wed 6 Jul, 2005 01:00 am
Do note that the fact that they acknowledged your request is very significant. In particular it is significant to the notion they seem to have about their protections as a publisher.

The content you are objecting to isn't too much of a smoking gun. But the fact that they acknowledged your complaint moves it past the C&D phase.

Publishers are not required to pre-moderate submissions to their sites, and several legal precedents exist that protect a site owner from the actions of his community up to a certain point.

Said point can be at the time at which he/she is notified.

Here's a simple example:

Say I run a site called "free music" that allows users to upload music.

Users start uploading copywrited files, despite it being clearly against my policies.

The owner of the media in question find the files on my site.

At this point, he can sue me, but it would likely only result in my having to remove it.

However if I ignore a request to remove the files then everything changes. It's no longer about forcing removal but starts to go into the realm of complicity or negligence.

BTW, Mormons suck! ;-)
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