Litigation over Internet defamation has grown as Internet users increasingly visit, and post to, unmoderated forums about their colleagues and acquaintances. Following in the footsteps of sites like AutoAdmit, a new college gossip website has become a popular forum for anonymous and potentially damaging postings about students, professors, and others.
JuicyCampus.com "supports" more than fifty colleges and universities across the United States, including two Service Academies, Ivy League institutions, and other traditional academic powerhouses. The site encourages users to post anonymous gossip about fellow students and other members of their college or university communities. Typical posts discuss the promiscuity or sexual exploits of certain students and many posts make potentially defamatory statements about individuals or groups.
JuicyCampus is already the subject of a student backlash against what many see to be vulgar and vitriolic content but, to date, no one has filed suit against the site or any of its users. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act would bar any claims against the site's owner or operator for statements authored solely by one of JuicyCampus's users and the site has made it difficult for a potential plaintiff to determine the identity of any individual poster (e.g., the site does not associate IP addresses with specific posts and encourages users to make use of services that permit them to mask their IP addresses).
JuicyCampus appears to be designed as one of those "wild west" user forums where anything goes and users are encouraged to post without consequence. However, it should be noted that the site's operator has attempted to keep posts on the site from being indexed by Google, which would certainly limit the potential damage that might be caused by defamatory statements posted to the site.
Unless Section 230 is repealed or amended, more sites like JuicyCampus are sure to spring up. They are inexpensive to run and can generate a great deal of traffic. The users create all of the site's content, much of it by disparaging fellow users, and the current state of the law makes it difficult to seek legal redress for defamatory statements published by the site.