• Targeted in humiliating online posts? What can you do?


    PITTSBURGH - Imagine going online and finding posts that call you a bad parent or even a drug addict.  People in our area have been targets of humiliating posts.

    The website thedirty.com has a following here in Pittsburgh.  Channel 11’s Courtney Brennan reports there are pages of unflattering pictures of men and women followed by short postings, calling them everything from a drug addict to a bad mom.

    A Pittsburgh woman told Brennan she was surprised to find herself on the site.

    “I was shocked and so was my family,” she said.

    The local mom said the posts call her a thief and a drug addict.

    “They were making false accusations about me and my kids,” she said.  “I was sad.  I was mad.”

    The website lets people post anonymously.

    "They have no liability themselves for any defamatory material that may be on their site, so long as it's a user that generated it and not themselves," said assistant law professor at Duquesne University Jacob Rooksby.
    Rooksby specializes in social media.  He said while some of the comments are just nasty opinions, others break the law.

    “When you say someone's a thief, they've broken the law.  When you say someone's a drug addict, those are all things that are plausibly believable and that would injure a person's reputation.  Those things are actionable,” he said.

    The Allegheny County District Attorney's Office tells Channel 11 that its Cyber Crimes Task Force has gotten several complaints about the website but these cases are hard to prosecute.  The only effective recourse is to hire an attorney and file a defamation lawsuit.

    “I want them to pay for their consequences just like anyone else if they would get into trouble,” said the victim Brennan talked to.

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