Sunday, October 11, 2015

A woman was fined for a nasty and malicious Yelp review

For some reason, people think they can post anything they feel like saying on the internet. Well, one woman learned (the hard way) that you simply can't do this (according to the judge who fined her).

She felt it was her 'freedom of speech' to attack a business owner whom she didn't like on the website "Yelp".  Indeed, Yelp does not seem to have any guidelines posted for its users about what is freedom of speech and what isn't, so I think Yelp should be sued by the business owner as well.

Unfortunately, this is impossible because of a 1998 law that was passed by the US Congress. According to this law, no internet company can be held responsible for postings placed on it. So if I own a website that allows comments by anyone, and someone writes something horrible about another person which is not true or which is meant to harm the person, according to this law the person who posted the statement can be sued but I who own the website can't.

This law was passed during the early stages of the internet and is clearly a bad law.  Why? Well, if someone who doesn't like you goes to a site and attacks you, and you write to the site, it will basically simply tell you that they don't care. Congress passed a law which absolves them of responsibility (says they are not responsible for what is on their site) and so they won't remove nasty, false and malicious comments even if it is readily apparent that the statements are false and that any decent company would remove them. You have to sue the person who posted the content.

Their attitude seems to be: "OK, this is horrible, it might destroy an innocent person's life, but we don't have to remove it and so we won't. It's too much trouble for us and we don't want to hire a few more employees to help make sure that innocent people are not hurt." The 1998 law was meant to protect these companies from crazy comments users might make, but the companies have been using the law to justify these harmful comments and the cyber-bullying that goes on on their sites. Why? Money makes the world go around. A responsible company would remove anything harmful and malicious, but the current internet companies simply refuse to do this.

So this woman learned a big lesson and she was lucky. The judge probably should have, in my opinion, fined her more for her attack on the guy. 

The article:


for bashing floor refinishing business; for attacking a business that makes older and stained wooden floors look better

a fine - this is a type of punishment in which a person has to pay the other person or the government money

Staten Island - this is one of the 5 boroughs or areas of New York City

the reviews are in - the journalist is joking a little...after a play the actors will wait for reviews by theater critics and when the papers arrive they'll say 'The reviews are in!'  In this case the review relates to what the woman from Staten Island wrote about the floor refinishing business

to bash, bashing - to attack, attacking

a judge - someone who is in charge of a courtroom

a con artist - 'con' comes from the word 'confidence' - a con man or con artist is someone who gains your trust or confidence only to try to get money from you illegally. If someone keeps promising something and keeps stealing money based on that promise, he is a con man or con artist.

a scathing review - a very, very nasty, harsh, severe review which is critical or attacks someone

rants - negative, nasty, mean and aggressive comments

crossed the line - she went too far, what she did could no longer be considered freedom of speech

to refinish a floor - usually the floor is sanded with an abrasive or rough material ad then varnished so that it looks new

green chemicals - chemicals that will not hurt the environment

peeling - she meant the surface of the floor was coming up in curls

she was unable to contain her  anger in a coherent sentence - she was so angry she wrote in badly broken English; her English didn't really make sense because she was so angry

the guy mat the owner - should be: the guy Matt, the owner, 

coherent - meaningful

is a scam - she meant, is a scammer (someone who steals money from people through scams - illegal plans

to rob - to steal from

BULL-----ER - a bullshitter, someone who lies (this is a dirty word)

urging - encouraging

libel - lying about a person to hurt him/her

personal in their invective - she made very personal comments in her attack on the owner

to impugn his integrity - to call his integrity or honesty into question; to make people believe that he has no integrity

her bid - her attempt

I'll fight you tooth and nail - I'll fight against you with everything I have (like an animal, with my teeth and nails)

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