14 votes

Judge rejects Musk’s arguments to dismiss “pedo guy” defamation suit

14 comments

  1. [10]
    TheJorro Link
    I hope he gets taken to the cleaners for this, just so that we can seal in the idea that things said on social media are not just pointless bluster. It's essentially a publishing platform and any...

    I hope he gets taken to the cleaners for this, just so that we can seal in the idea that things said on social media are not just pointless bluster. It's essentially a publishing platform and any steps to get people to realize it should be regulated as such are A-OK with me.

    24 votes
    1. Bullmaestro Link Parent
      If anything I see this being settled out of court. Musk may be a pompous ass but he's rich and could easily save himself the hassle of a lawsuit that damages his finances further.

      If anything I see this being settled out of court. Musk may be a pompous ass but he's rich and could easily save himself the hassle of a lawsuit that damages his finances further.

      7 votes
    2. DanBC Link Parent
      We've had a few cases (in the UK) of people being held accountable for their words on Twitter. I guess the best known is Katie fucking Hopkins...

      We've had a few cases (in the UK) of people being held accountable for their words on Twitter. I guess the best known is Katie fucking Hopkins https://www.theguardian.com/media/2017/mar/10/jack-monroe-wins-twitter-libel-case-against-katie-hopkins

      That nearly made her bankrupt: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2018/sep/16/katie-hopkins-applies-for-insolvency-to-avoid-bankruptcy-after-jack-monroe-twitter-costly-libel-case

      3 votes
    3. [7]
      moriarty Link Parent
      I tend to agree with you, but just to play devil's advocate - it is only a publication platform for the popular and famous people. The rest of us are using it (along with Facebook) as a way to...

      I tend to agree with you, but just to play devil's advocate - it is only a publication platform for the popular and famous people. The rest of us are using it (along with Facebook) as a way to talk to friends and should be held to a lower standard. How to make this distinction legally is beyond me, but I'd like to at least try to point that out. How does this distinction work in the offline world? Say, revealing a libelous lie to a few friends vs shouting it from a pulpit?

      2 votes
      1. [3]
        cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
        Follower count is probably a decent metric to rely on to make that distinction. If someone only has a few hundred followers it's conceivable they are just communicating with friends... but once...

        Follower count is probably a decent metric to rely on to make that distinction. If someone only has a few hundred followers it's conceivable they are just communicating with friends... but once they go past that, it definitely gets into public discourse territory, IMO. However even with 50 followers, you are still posting your tweet publicly on the internet for all to potentially see, retweet and go viral; They are never truly private (only DMs are) and so that's where judgement on intent comes into play.

        3 votes
        1. [2]
          moriarty Link Parent
          Is that really different from telling your friends something and having them repeat it to others? Also - judging by the elusiveness of viral reactions, what happens if your post to your 10 friends...

          Is that really different from telling your friends something and having them repeat it to others?
          Also - judging by the elusiveness of viral reactions, what happens if your post to your 10 friends accidentally becomes viral?

          Sorry for being intentionally difficult - I'm trying to form a distinction to myself on this matter and the duality of social media is still a tricky subject for be to reason.

          1 vote
          1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
            Yes, it absolutely is. One is hearsay and a public recounting of a private communication, the other is a direct public expression. Well, I would say that depends on your intent with the original...

            Is that really different from telling your friends something and having them repeat it to others?

            Yes, it absolutely is. One is hearsay and a public recounting of a private communication, the other is a direct public expression.

            Also - judging by the elusiveness of viral reactions, what happens if your post to your 10 friends accidentally becomes viral?

            Well, I would say that depends on your intent with the original tweet in the first place. But being ignorant of the fact your tweets have the potential to go viral is not a valid defense if they do, IMO.

            4 votes
      2. TheJorro Link Parent
        I'd think that through the process of verifying your account to get a checkmark, you also agree and acknowledge that you are using the platform as a way to broadcast official messaging, and...

        I'd think that through the process of verifying your account to get a checkmark, you also agree and acknowledge that you are using the platform as a way to broadcast official messaging, and therefore are using it as a publishing platform.

        3 votes
      3. [2]
        gpl Link Parent
        I would tend to err on the side of "Social media is a publishing platform to the extent that it is used to make public posts". That is, my private communications with friends using Messenger for...

        I would tend to err on the side of "Social media is a publishing platform to the extent that it is used to make public posts". That is, my private communications with friends using Messenger for example should be treated as private communications. But public posts, regardless of follower counts or level of notoriety, should be treated as a published statement. That only my friends might read my published posts doesn't really change their nature, only their possible effects.

        1. moriarty Link Parent
          I certainly see where you're coming from here. I'm just honestly not sure how enforceable this stance can be, with countless random individuals on twitter/fb/reddit posting/repeating libel online....

          I certainly see where you're coming from here. I'm just honestly not sure how enforceable this stance can be, with countless random individuals on twitter/fb/reddit posting/repeating libel online. But I'm perfectly fine holding public figures accountable for their public statements on social media.

  2. [4]
    jlpoole Link
    Quite the contrary, I believe someone like Musk who is wealthy, has lawyers watch his every move, and a target would be even more careful to make sure his statements have factual background before...

    The comments were made in the middle of a public feud between the men, the lawyers argued, and comments made in anger in the heat of the moment are less likely to be considered factual.

    Quite the contrary, I believe someone like Musk who is wealthy, has lawyers watch his every move, and a target would be even more careful to make sure his statements have factual background before making it just in case he is sued. I'd believe a statement by a successful wealthy entrepreneur where the risk of defamation is very high as I would expect he would not have made it without having cleared it through his legal team and their investigators.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      ThatFanficGuy Link Parent
      This assumes that either (A) he reports to his lawyers what he's going to tweet and awaits their approval, or (B) his lawyers can read his mind. You may not expect it, but it's not uncommon for...

      has lawyers watch his every move

      This assumes that either (A) he reports to his lawyers what he's going to tweet and awaits their approval, or (B) his lawyers can read his mind.

      You may not expect it, but it's not uncommon for the rich and famous to be twats on Twitter. High profile or not, we're still talking about human beings, and if one is not in the best control of their impulses, especially in public – which you'd hope Musk should be, but then, we are talking about his calling a guy a pedophile out of possibly drunk contempt – there's still a possibility of bad words being thrown out.

      Basically: his high profile doesn't make him more credible.

      Which isn't to say that I support the man's saying the stupid, spiteful thing he said. He deserves to be worked by the court system for that tweet. Everyone should be help accountable for being a twat online – and he messed up big time when he, in his position of power, wealth, and popularity, said something so egregious it cannot possibly be justified by eccentricity alone, which these things tend to when the person's rich.

      It's just... I mean, he's human. He got upset, he got angry, and he expressed it in an undesirable, unpleasant, even repugnant way. He deserves an appropriate punishment, but let's not expect from him more than he's able to give, considering the circumstances in which we're mentioning Musk's name.

      4 votes
      1. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
        Related: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/01/tech/elon-musk-twitter-rules-sec/index.html And if his lawyers (and/or PR team) aren't vetting his tweets before he sends them out by now, something is...

        (A) he reports to his lawyers what he's going to tweet and awaits their approval

        Related: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/01/tech/elon-musk-twitter-rules-sec/index.html

        And if his lawyers (and/or PR team) aren't vetting his tweets before he sends them out by now, something is very, very wrong with Elon Musk and the companies he runs, IMO.

        4 votes
    2. DanBC Link Parent
      "I said it, but didn't mean it" is a weird defence to try to use for defamation. The legal defences are usually (not sure about the US) truth, honest opinion, and priviledged communication. Has he...

      "I said it, but didn't mean it" is a weird defence to try to use for defamation. The legal defences are usually (not sure about the US) truth, honest opinion, and priviledged communication.

      Has he just made his case harder to defend?

      2 votes