Gossip site not so anonymous

The information about the investigations by the attorneys general of New Jersey and Connecticut was corrected at 10:35 p.m. April 10. The editorial incorrectly characterized the nature of investigations into JuicyCampus.com by the attorneys general of New Jersey and Connecticut. The attorneys general have not made any accusations against the site.View the official statements of the attorneys general of New Jersey and Connecticut.

The business of gossip is becoming a sticky mess for Matt Ivester, founder of JuicyCampus.com, now that the attorney general of New Jersey is investigating whether JuicyCampus is violating New Jersey law through misrepresentation to users and unconscionable business practices. And the attorney general of Connecticut is investigating whether the site is following its rules prohibiting libelous, defamatory and abusive postings.

It seems the ellipses in “Always Anonymous… Always Juicy…” are extremely significant. The first ellipsis cancels out the word “always.” The Web site’s Privacy and Tracking Policy states that a user is always anonymous if and only if his or her computer is set to block cookies and uses an IP-cloaking service.

The second ellipsis implies that JuicyCampus is always juicy because, though Ivester admits he has a right to remove content that is “unlawful, threatening, abusive, tortuous, defamatory, obscene, libelous, or invasive of another’s privacy” at his own discretion, he seems to have no discretion and thus will not exercise this right – which takes about a second to figure out after viewing the site’s home page.

Ivester said that if subpoenaed, he would turn over users’ IP addresses, which Internet service providers could then use to track and identify JuicyCampus users. He said he is confident JuicyCampus has not violated any law and refuses to take responsibility for any of the site’s content, placing full blame on his own consumers, the posters of dirty posts.

But law aside, Ivester should learn that what goes around, comes around. One cannot build a house of gossip, in which people burn each other, and expect to dodge the flames.

And as for the posters of dirty posts, the same goes for them too, especially now that they may not be granted anonymity.