What Responsibility Do Internet Businesses Have Regarding Slander and Bullying?

It’s a different climate out there on the Internet. Opening your Twitter feed is like walking into a mine field. You never know who is getting harassed and if it will be you the next time. And businesses are threatening to sue if they don’t like your Yelp review. Is that how it should be? What responsibility do Internet businesses have regarding slander and bullying?

Twitter is a dangerous place to be lately, and CEO Jack Dorsey knows it. After actress Leslie Jones was hit with a slew of racist tweets, she left the social network. The account of the writer who spearheaded the assault on her was permanently suspended, and she was invited back. He then admitted that his site hadn’t been taking care of abuse the way they should. Instagram is joining in these efforts as well by starting to allow users to filter the comments or turn them off completely.

And Yelp is starting to warn users when they think a business might sue them because they left a bad review. They have started to post a warning on the pages of businesses they believe would strike out against a user. The warning reads, “This business may be trying to abuse the legal system in an effort to stifle free speech, including issuing questionable legal threats against reviewers.

But should that be Yelp’s responsibility to let users know that the review they leave could leave them open to being sued? What about Twitter and Instagram? Is it their responsibility to put a stop to bullying? Or is all this open to a user’s discretion whether or not to use such a site to begin with?

Laura Tucker
Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.

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