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The Death of Indymedia
October 26, 2003 11:20 PM   Subscribe

Indymedia to cease operations. Sure, it's not announced just yet on their homepage. You have to go here to find out why. A hint: they have screenshots of this trash post on the usually very trash commentboards of a fine idea of a website.
posted by crasspastor (51 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Isn't anything more interesting happening in the world?
posted by inksyndicate at 11:30 PM on October 26, 2003


The label of your lead link seems overly probabilistic.
posted by tingley at 11:31 PM on October 26, 2003


Parody or satire not reasonably believed to be fact cannot support a libel claim. See Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988).
posted by PrinceValium at 11:43 PM on October 26, 2003


Erm - Yah I don't see anything here that indicates IndyMedia is closing, other than a potentially offensive post. The press can publish offensive stuff. They can even publish false stuff - what they can't do is publish material maliciously - eg. they know it's wrong but they're doing it anyways to slander someone. I think Charles of LGF is an obvious public figure as far as blogging goes, so unless California's libel laws are THAT different from Oregon's, there's not even a case until malice is proved.
posted by Happydaz at 11:48 PM on October 26, 2003


Isn't anything more interesting happening in the world?

Yes.
posted by homunculus at 11:50 PM on October 26, 2003


Indeed, Hustler v. Falwell seems to cover this almost exactly.

Little Green Footballs sure isn't a very exciting website.
posted by inksyndicate at 11:51 PM on October 26, 2003


I have no idea, if Johnson has a "case"... but last I checked Indymedia was not a source of "parody or satire"


It presents itself as a collection of "media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of the truth."
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:52 PM on October 26, 2003


Fight at the playground at 3 o'clock!
posted by 2sheets at 11:55 PM on October 26, 2003


It sure takes real courage and strength of character to sue for libel...
posted by Jimbob at 12:06 AM on October 27, 2003


A good libel suit would be good for both organizations in the short term since no one outside of their respective rarified, niche audiences have ever heard of them. It's a bit like the Bill O'Reilly/Al Franken thing - both sides benefit from the mudfight.
posted by stevis at 12:24 AM on October 27, 2003


(I should add, by the way, that posting a pathetic and embarrasing claim that someone you dislike is a paedophile also shows courage and intellect). Let the children fight.
posted by Jimbob at 12:43 AM on October 27, 2003


Meepzorp to cease operations. Sure, it's not announced just yet on their homepage. You have to go here to find out why. A hint: they have screenshots of this trash post on the usually very trash idea of a website.
posted by quonsar at 12:44 AM on October 27, 2003


"This is an OPEN PUBLISHING newswire"

Umm, lets see, we have a "media outlet" that lets anyone post anonymously. I don't think this is any different than any other web board and Johnson is going to have a hell of a time selling that to an attorney.

More
Indymedia relies on the people who post to the Indymedia news wire to present their information in a thorough, honest, accurate manner. While Indymedia reserves the right to develop sections of the site that provide edited articles, there is no designated Indymedia editorial collective that edits articles posted to the www.Indymedia.org news wire.
Toss is that there's no editors then they (Indymedia) are free from liability. Johnson may have some kind of case with the poster (doubtful I'd say, unless upped to harassment then there are other standards to live up to), but it seems Indymedia is pretty immune.

I believe the specifics are in the DMCA. I believe a website or a webboard are classified as OSPs and benefit from the DMCAs safe harbor provision. Wha? The DMCA isn't all evil?

More: Congress intended the definition of OSP to be read broadly, and a company does not need to be in the business of providing Internet access or other traditional online services in order to qualify as an OSP. Although it is not clear that all web site owners are covered by this definition, web site owners which allow third parties to post information, or which link to other web sites, should at least consider qualifying under this safe harbor in the event that the statute is interpreted broadly enough to cover them.
posted by skallas at 12:44 AM on October 27, 2003


Whooops. Null link is this:

http://www.haledorr.com/publications/pubsdetail.asp?ID=106373142001
posted by skallas at 12:46 AM on October 27, 2003


I'd say there could very well be a case for libel there - I very much got the impression that the author of the post was hoping against hope that people would take the post to be true. Since I know nothing about either of the sites, I in fact took it that way until the "unnamed lubricant" line. I was willing to let buggery slide, because various states have weird weird laws ("no drinking milk from the jug after 6 on Wednesdays" and what have you). Furthermore, I think that intent to cause damage to the man's reputation is pretty obvious. Is it open and shut? No. Is it obviously covered by Hustler &c.? I don't think so.

In any event, I could not care less about the sites in question, but the legal particulars are fascinating.

"It sure takes real courage and strength of character to sue for libel..."

What the fuck ever, man. There's good reason for there to exist legal recourse for someone spreading rumors like "he was arrested for sodomizing some 9 year old retarded kid". Unless you think it's really impossible for your life to be all but ruined by popular opinion? How many jobs do people have to be fired from, how many friends do they have to lose, and how depressed do they have to become for you to admit that slander and libel are real and they should not go unchecked?

I think I understand where the attitude comes from: the tendancy on the interweb that people seem to have to scream about lawsuits the second someone calls them an idiot. That is of course pathetic, and I've spent a fair number of online hours laughing at those people. But to lump all libel/slander suits into the same category is just incorrect.

What if a local newspaper picked it up? What if the AP picked up on it from there? I realize it seems like a longshot, but remember, all the major news agencies have fucked up before, and both slanderous stories and patently ridiculous urban legends have been printed as true. The eventual retractions tend to do very little to ameliorate the damage.

Finally, if you believe bringing a libel suit shows weakness of character, what's your preferred alternative? Starting a fist-fight?
posted by kavasa at 12:57 AM on October 27, 2003


What makes anyone think that Indymedia is in any trouble at all?

They are a service that allows others to create public posts (much like MeFi, really...) They are, for all intensive purposes, an ISP as defined by the DMCA.

If a legal complaint comes in, the DMCA specifically says that if they take down the post upon notification, they automatically cannot be held responsible for it.

They can then give the person whose post they took down a counter-notification about the takedown and allow them to challenge it. If they choose to do so, then the post could go back up until it's all legally decided, but the person whose post it was would be held responsible... not the ISP itself.

This, incidentally, is my opinion. MeFi is in no way responsible for it, and if I say that you're all a bunch of NAMBLA lovin' NAMBLA lovers who love to screw NAMBLAs up the NAMBLA, then don't sue Matt. Thanks.

MetaFilter to cease operations...
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:54 AM on October 27, 2003


Kavasa, I was referring, on the whole, to the concept of using a libel suit to shut down Indymedia. LGF's author might well sue the person who posted this, although that may appear to be purely a malicious action, as I doubt anyone's opinion of Charles has actually been lowered by this. The intent of the post is clear to all. However, it is cowardly to take aim at a whole website on the basis of what one person posted in an unmoderated forum. What insomnia_lj said, really.
posted by Jimbob at 2:21 AM on October 27, 2003


(I should add, by the way, that posting a pathetic and embarrasing claim that someone you dislike is a paedophile also shows courage and intellect). Let the children fight.

I'll tell you what's most pathetic. The ridiculous pile-on on behalf of old "Charles Johnson". For no reason, other than doing "it" on his behalf.

Everybody in the whole goddamned wired world knows to take anything ever said anywhere on the web with a grain of salt. Especially the more or less unmoderated and wholly uninteresting boards of Indymedia.

I just thought it was funny how seriously the LGF cult was taking it. I thought I'd share.
posted by crasspastor at 2:26 AM on October 27, 2003


Sometimes passion rears itself as satire linnwood. FYI
posted by crasspastor at 2:41 AM on October 27, 2003


Bill O'Reilly to the rescue! From the LGF comments:

"So, if he [O'Reilly] gets a well-spoken decent citizen like yourself to come forward with a tale of how Moyers/PBS are taking tax-payer money to libel people, I could see a slim chance of you getting on The Factor."

Hahha. Seriously though, conspiracy theories aside, I believe this post will be deleted. Web community vs web community "fights" usually do, and frankly aren't worth bringing more attention to despite the unintentional humor it provides.
posted by skallas at 2:51 AM on October 27, 2003


Actually, my apology here... technically, what I originally posted was correct, in that the service provider is legally protected. However, it isn't under the DMCA, which covers only copyright protection, not protection from libel.

It is actually under Section 230 -- interactive computer service immunity. There was actually some recent case precident under the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which would protect Indymedia itself from libel charges.
posted by insomnia_lj at 2:56 AM on October 27, 2003


I'll take it MetaTalk Skallas! And I want to know where you get off?
BTW happily taking my meds, taking it to MetaTalk and definitely wondering where you get off. . .
.

People can take their shit way too seriously. The above link is of a time that I took my shit too seriously. I was a rookie. My skin was thin.

We all do it.
posted by crasspastor at 3:12 AM on October 27, 2003


Totally fake tabloid-headline post here, crasspastor. I don't think you take your shit (or anything else) too seriously anymore.
posted by taz at 3:19 AM on October 27, 2003


Actually no Taz. I thought it fell under satire by way of the LGF thread. But that's just me.

Delete away Matt. Delete away.
posted by crasspastor at 3:22 AM on October 27, 2003


"... as I doubt anyone's opinion of Charles has actually been lowered by this."

This I don't find hard to believe.
posted by cedar at 5:12 AM on October 27, 2003


Delete away Matt. Delete away.
Why? It's an interesting story about one person poking another with a virtual stick online, and the ensuing reaction.
posted by amberglow at 5:34 AM on October 27, 2003


Wow. I've seen divisions here, but those people scare the shit outa me! Please don't send me there again! :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 5:36 AM on October 27, 2003


It's not even worth taking this thread to MetaTalk. Thanks CrassPastor for wasting our time with speculation, and on top of that posting another LGF thread, after Matt asked recently that we not do so.

Seriously people, don't link to LGF, it brings out people wanting to bash it for no reason and starts some pointless pissing matches between the sites. I have no problem with that site running as it is, but anytime anyone on metafilter so much as mentions their name, it is often perceived as an attack on them, regardless of who said it or the merit.

I have no interest in LGF. I don't care who it's in an argument with. This isn't something interesting and new on the Web.
posted by VulcanMike at 5:45 AM on October 27, 2003


For some reason, the Sysadmin in me *really* wants to see the logs for when that story was posted on IMC....
posted by eriko at 5:45 AM on October 27, 2003



posted by quonsar at 5:47 AM on October 27, 2003


I was tempted byt thought better of it, too, VulcanMike - the unfounded conclusions in the FPP make the mefi community look a bit silly.
posted by nthdegx at 5:55 AM on October 27, 2003


Wow. It's a troll post like all the other troll posts that show up on slashdot and kuro5hin and every other web board where mods don't delete stuff if they feel like it (and on some that do).

Surely, this is the end of the website! That guy has been totaly wronged. Not wronged enough though, hopefully he'll be hit by a bus as well.
posted by delmoi at 6:20 AM on October 27, 2003


The great irony here is that Charles Johnson has only drawn further attention to the Indymedia post, when he could have easily ignored it. This looks to me to be a desperate attempt at attention for both sides.

Oh, and incidentally, bloggers and website operators are protected from libel, or, more specifically, forum operators are.
posted by ed at 6:32 AM on October 27, 2003


first al qaeda takes down his web host, now indymedia is spreading vicious libel? it just ain't been charlie's year.
posted by mcsweetie at 6:51 AM on October 27, 2003


My favorite IndyMedia gems are one article declaring none of the 9-11 terrorists were Muslim, one declaring that they were all still at-large and therefore innocent, and another involving a drugged up GWB in some violent incident that was covered up. I'm hoping IndyMedia gives us the dirt on that whole "Bigfoot Marries Liz Taylor" story I've been hearing about.

That said, I don't see how LGF could have a case unless it was the IndyMedia owner himself who made the post. Because the post seems like less of a "joke" and more an opportunity to viciously slander someone, it would show some class on behalf of Indymedia to take it down. You'd think both sites would have more concern for their reputation as a haven for crackpots, but keeping that post alive (which they should legally be allowed) is only going to perpetuate the stereotype.
posted by dhoyt at 6:55 AM on October 27, 2003


This brings me some unintentional humor to my morning.
IF I SEE ONE MORE POSTER CALL THIS SLANDER, I MAY HAVE TO LAUNCH A DOS ATTACK ON YOUR COMPUTER. HONEST TO GOD.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:01 AM on October 27, 2003


Jimbob - ah, ok. Misunderstood (obviously). Yeah I couldn't care less whether indymedia or LGF implode or whatever.

Also ed appears to have the definitive answer, in that there is no case against the operator.
posted by kavasa at 12:09 PM on October 27, 2003


"Metafilter Weenies Overjoyed"
posted by Ljubljana at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2003


Stop linking to LGF.

Just don't do it.
posted by bshort at 1:52 PM on October 27, 2003


Claims from Mr. Johnson:

"Viking: not one person at Metafilter has condemned this; every one of them is happy about it."

"the person who posted that item at Metafilter ("crasspastor") was definitely attacking me. He says exactly that in the comments for the post."

Huh? Is there a pinata somewhere in that thread that I don't know about? Personally speaking, precisely how unclear is the statement "This looks to me to be a desperate attempt at attention for both sides", which favors no one in this case? How is crasspastor's FPP an attack when Mr. Johnson isn't even mentioned?

Looks to me like this is the online equivalent of the FOX News suit.
posted by ed at 1:53 PM on October 27, 2003


I didn't visit the site, but I find amusement in looking at the urls to LGF. Does this guy make a special post every single time someone says something about him? That's a good way to encourage the trolls, knowing they will get such a big reaction.
posted by bargle at 2:22 PM on October 27, 2003


I think we are dealing with some very thin skins on all sides, and it's best for everyone to just ignore all these people and hope they go away. I basically agree with Ed.

But I must admit that divorce yourself from the insignificant actual persons/sites involved, and it is fascinating to watch the law literally get made in front of us vis a vis the web. Every new medium requires new laws for people to figure out just what is and isn't 'illegal'. While the parties in this specific case seems to be mostly interested in getting attention and scoring 'victimhood' points, it is still interesting to try to figure out the legal standing behind Mr. Johnson's claims.
posted by cell divide at 2:31 PM on October 27, 2003


Looks to me like this is the online equivalent of the FOX News suit.

ed: Are you comparing Al Franken using a tagline in a playful manner to deliberately posting a fake "news article" accusing someone being a pedophile?

I dislike both sites tremendously, but if someone were to make accusations like that about me online, I'd be livid and probably not take the issue too lightly. IndyMedia isn't the Onion. It's a place many people go for news, expecting the truth, not hilarious "parody" such as that.
posted by dhoyt at 2:35 PM on October 27, 2003


I dislike both sites tremendously, but if someone were to make accusations like that about me online, I'd be livid and probably not take the issue too lightly. IndyMedia isn't the Onion. It's a place many people go for news, expecting the truth, not hilarious "parody" such as that.
I dunno, maybe I'm a jaded usenet veteran but I really don't see the need to get into a self-rightous froth criticizing or disclaiming something that is so over the top, and so badly written that it is obviously a wind-up troll. I've read much worse on a daily basis. Those attacking IndyMedia have demonstrated their own share of stupid and offensive behavior, none of which seem to be drawing much criticism. "Do as I say, not as I do" appears to be the rule on both sides.

But this entire thing demonstrates why I believe that the internet is actually setting things back for political discourse. I can talk to my arch-conservative MIL and we can discuss issues like the patriot act with the common realization that we both care passionately about the state of our country, but have different ideas about what should be done about it. However, on the internet, it is all about "sides". Those off center are held accountable for the libel invoked by wingnuts.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:45 PM on October 27, 2003


"not one person at Metafilter has condemned this; every one of them is happy about it."

Matt certainly doesn't appear to be happy about these sorts of infights... and I don't think that most people who have commented here are exactly dancing in the streets.

I've had people insult me on online forums. I have even recieved death threats and threats of violence. Sure, it makes you mad at times, but if you have a bit of visibility, it's kind of hard to avoid, and I think it makes you thickskinned, which is usually a good thing.

Still, I believe in commenting features and public forums and online communities and in anything that gives people more of a voice or that creates more discussion on issues that matter to them. I believe in them because they aren't the problem.

If Charles over at FPP wants someone to condemn the offensive, rude, insensitive remarks that an anonymous person made against him over at Indymedia, I am willing to say that those remarks were stupid, childish, and dead wrong.

However, if Charles wants to condemn Indymedia and its essentially anonymous forums for being legally responsible for the attack against him, then I condemn Charles, because he should know that defending free speech means protecting both him *AND* Indymedia from the random comments that people make on their sites. Comments from him saying that every one here is happy that he's been anonymously libeled just serve to insult, dehumanize, marginalize, and generalize a whole bunch of people who, by and large, think for themselves.

Arabs and Jews. Neocons and liberals... and now, Freepers and MeFis LGFs and Indys? When will it all end?!
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:05 PM on October 27, 2003


I should have said "Charles at LGF", but you get the idea...
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:07 PM on October 27, 2003


When will it all end?!

Not with a bang, but a whimper.
posted by Jimbob at 4:11 PM on October 27, 2003


No, that's *how*. We're looking for a date and time.
posted by Asparagirl at 6:49 PM on October 27, 2003


We're looking for a date and time.

November 5, 5327 11:47am

ok? : >
posted by amberglow at 6:54 PM on October 27, 2003


I have absolutely no interest in what either of these sites are about, but I just want to post a reply on this thread so someone on the LGF site can copy 'n' paste it into their reply on that site and make some put-down comment about me being a 'weenie liberal moonbat'. That way my fame will live on through teh intarweb forever! (PS: Hello mum!)
posted by tapeguy at 7:30 PM on October 27, 2003


Wouldn't a bat that lived on the moon be really ace?
posted by davidgentle at 6:31 PM on October 28, 2003


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