Thursday, February 12, 2009
Tarrant County court subpoenas Topix user records in libel case
178 users are targeted for comments they posted about a Clarksville family.
FORT WORTH News aggregator Topix.net faces a subpoena from a Tarrant County court related to comments posted by anonymous users discussing the trial of a Clarksville couple accused of sexual assault. Mark and Rhonda Lesher were acquitted, and have now filed a libel suit against Topix users who posted negative comments about them.
A Tarrant County judge ordered the company to hand over identifying information on the users who posted the comments. The case apparently landed there because at least one of the alleged commenters lives there.
Even if they comply, they won't be able to provide much beyond IP addresses in most cases, as Topix does not require registration. Their comment boards are largely unmoderated and have more of a "wild west" vibe than a curated community like Pegasus News. They also have lots of activity, as threads go on for thousands of comments.
We take our community and user privacy very seriously. However, it's important to remember as you traverse the Interwebs that you are ultimately responsible for what you say online, wherever that might be.