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Financial Fatcats vs Anonymous Internet User

By aaroncynic in News on Dec 29, 2009 9:20PM

2009_12_29_yahoo.jpg A habitually litigious Loop business filed court papers Monday to initiate a defamation suit against an individual Yahooligan (yes, that's what they're called) over complaints made on a message board. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Advanced Equities Financial, a Chicago venture capital firm, is suing Yahoo Inc. to find the identity of one robinlove(at) regarding some disagreeable statements the user allegedly typed and submitted for temporary perusal on the site.

Businesses are still having a hard time coming to grips with the digital age, which is evident in this lawsuit along with the myriad suits involving Twitter, Facebook, and even news sites. Online, it seems, complaints spread quickly and demand more immediate reaction. Where a company used to be able to file a letter in the circular bin or hang up on an angry customer, it is now forced to deal with the idea that an irate consumer may be able to instantly spread his or her complaints worldwide, so indifference is out of the question. What these businesses have not yet figured out is that there is nothing that can be done to stop Yahooligans (or Chicagoistanians, Tribuniteers, MeFiphiles, or run-of-the-mill Twits,) from thinking, typing and pressing Enter.

Filing a lawsuit that singles out an individual doesn’t help, except in garnering negative public attention. Horizon didn’t win any sympathy for saying they were a “sue first, ask questions later” kind of company. Demanding $50,000 in damages from a student for a Facebook page seems like more than overkill. Rather than worry about the existence of negative statements, such companies might think of stepping up and actually answering the charges. After all, unless they’re hiding something, isn’t it better PR to let the truth speak for itself?