By David Oslin
Privacy. Something we all want in our online adventures. Something we do not have, we claim to have it. But we don’t. One need only looks at the decision in the matter of James Woods. On Tuesday 1/3/2017 we have another major blow to anonymity. The worst part of this matter is that the accuser, in this case, is apparently deceased. This started with a significant tweet that was overblown from the start. Accusing James Woods of abusing cocaine on twitter.
There are only a few short days to overturn this decision. And this conservative hopes that It is done. Because after thinking about it, the long-term effects of this? Should scare all of us. There’s this quote from Woods’ Atty Michael Weinstein
“It also sends a message to others who believe they can hide behind the anonymity of online social media to falsely accuse public figures of heinous behavior without recourse to themselves.”
I would love to see how the damage was caused to a dead television and movie career. Not to say it didn’t enjoy a great run, James Woods here, however, has taken things to an nth degree in his response. In so doing he has intentionally or unintentionally done devastating damage. If you believe you are immune from this in any way. Let me assure you, sadly you are not. The net effect of the decision in question makes any user online vulnerable no matter what they are doing.
Smack talking and joking around in games can now be used against you in a libel suit, and your very identity is exposed. Only the famous and competitive enjoy the fruits of not being anonymous. There are many out there whose real life might well be absolute garbage, but they command high respect in a guild or an online gaming clan. PSN XBOX STEAM and other services are effectively unable to resist this verdict. Meaning should one sue they can demand your entire online profile to be exposed to the world. That comment you make in Mobile Strike? Yeah. That one. Can get your entire life exposed. Nice huh?
Many services, many online forums, will not allow you to name and shame, including gaming sources for a variety of reasons. No matter what was done, they do not want the level of drama this creates on their services. In my opinion, in the wake of this decision. These services now violate the constitutional rights of the accused to confront their accusers. Making them DIRECTLY liable and responsible in numerous potential lawsuits of this nature. I feel for the gamers who feel they can not be themselves in the real world, who feel that the electronic world with the ability to create to one’s desire, in a heaven of sorts: Is a fairer more just world than the one they are forced to live in.
So what is next? Will the court’s decision force all online players to use their real names instead of screen names? Will we all be forced to use avatars reflecting our real attributes rather than ones designed ourselves? Will some 12 years old on Xbox tell to shut up by an adult win a multi-million dollar verdict and out an entire online history of someone?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any answers right now. The SLAPP lawsuit has become one of the worst weapons in modern times. It is lawfare at its absolute worst and wishes the court had the sense to chart out the massive damage it took this gamer five seconds to figure out. I don’t live my life anonymously anymore. I sadly saw this exact thing coming years ago…it’s why I’ve transitioned to a degree. But I still use my main callsign in newer and bigger games. It’s become part of who I am.
Ten days to find out if anonymity has a price worth paying. The constitution gives the accused the right to confront his accuser in a court of law. Now a court is saying a person has that right no matter the court, no matter the reason. Freedom of speech may not be freedom from consequence. But the consequences of this decision are far more reaching and dangerous than the paltry level 2 chest level 999 GM James Woods is set to loot of off the now dead Abe List’s corpse.