Instagram Account That Sought Harassment Tales May Be Unmasked

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New York Times:

Since October, advertisers have been riveted by an anonymous Instagram account called Diet Madison Avenue, which solicited reports of sexual misconduct in the ad industry and published the names of alleged harassers. But now, the account has been deleted and its creators’ names could be made public through a defamation lawsuit brought by a man who claims Diet Madison Avenue posted false allegations about him that cost him his job.

The suit has put a spotlight on the new digital forums, like Instagram accounts and Google spreadsheets, that have been used to surface allegations of harassment in the #MeToo era and have highlighted the precariousness of maintaining anonymity online.

Emma Llansó, director of the Free Expression Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said the case was an interesting example of “the roles these tech companies play in facilitating people’s speech.” The decision that the court will make will be challenging, she said.

“The reason that people are making these sorts of accounts anonymously is because of the fear of reprisal that they face — that’s a key part of why we have a First Amendment right to anonymous speech,” Ms. Llansó said. “On the other hand, defamation and untrue statements that are damaging to people’s reputations are also something our laws protect against.”

Full story here.

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