Be Careful What You Comment On

This podcast episode touches on one of the most important frontiers of free speech in the Internet age, and I’m not exaggerating or being hyperbolic.

When speech about one topic/company/product is chilled, its affects are wider than that single act of speech.

From the New Tech City episode about free speech in the comment section:

This week on New Tech City we bring you a cautionary tale of e-commerce, fine print, and the drastic measures some online retailers will take to protect their reputations, even at the expense of consumers. In part two of our podcast, we explore how a court case over bad Yelp reviews might affect much wider online free speech. It gets extreme. It gets ugly. And it’s going to keep happening as the reputation economy keeps growing.

The issue is this: Retailers get nailed by a bad review. Sometimes it’s honest, sometimes it’s exaggerated, and sometimes the bad review is flat out false and defamatory. But either way, it hurts business. So retailers are trying various ways to stop the reviews from happening: from unfounded financial fees, to extreme copyright claims about the very right to post a review about an experience, to totally justifiable defamation lawsuits.

The one thing this episode doesn’t touch on that is extremely relevant is Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation—or SLAPP suits {on the media}.