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Finding Hope in the "Skank" Ruling

Tuesday, 18 Aug 2009 | 2:21 PM ET

There's an interesting court decision that has, to my mind, some potential to change the blogosphere.

A Manhattan judge has ruled that Google has to give up the identity of an anonymous blogger who called fashion model Liskula Cohen a "skank" and other nasty stuff. (Obviously the blogger is way out of touch -- she's an attractive lady who has been through a lot). You can read about the decision here.

Now I have colleagues who rail about blogs. I don't share that intensity. But I do get a little riled when "mainstream media" — by comparison to blogs — gets tagged for not being tough or hard on certain people or subjects. Hey, I could be the roughest, toughest bully Corporate America has ever seen ... if I could be anonymous and not worry about threatening calls from lawyers.

But when you work for a newspaper, a TV network, or an established Net news site, you have to follow the journalistic rules: You back things up, with your identity and your reporting ... or you get sued.

Now some bloggers, anonymous and otherwise, may get a taste of that legal repercussion. Depends on whether Google fights the decision and all the other legal baggage that would be likely to follow.

Nevertheless, I'm hoping it will elevate the general level of discussion on the Net.

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