One risk of participating in Web 2.0
Tonight I went to a fundraiser for Jon Newton who’s being sued for libel because of a blog post on his site p2pnet.net. Despite his taking down the post, and offering to let the aggrieved party post a response without any editing, the lawsuit continues.
He performed a song he’d composed for the occasion, possibly entitled Freedom of Speech and containing the great line “you might as well not think”.
In a short speech about what the event was all about, Newton made the point that “it could happen to you”. Anyone who has a blog at risk. Even if you’re ultra-careful about what you write, if you allow comments you are open. One of the things the lawsuit demands is the identity of someone who left a comment on Newton’s blog — even though the comment was submitted anonymously and Newton has no idea who it was (not that he’d reveal the identity if he did).
There was a petition to the Canadian government, but I didn’t sign it because I wasn’t sure about everything it said, especially the request that “defamatory libel” be removed as an offence from Canadian law. How should I know? I’m just a blogger. But that’s Newton’s point: we, the members of the participatory Web, Web 2.0, run risks we don’t even understand.