Viral junk and the Culture War: think before you share

Can sober correction ever catch up with viral junk about legal cases on the internet? Two new instances, one from the right and one from the left, leave me wondering.

I’ve now updated this 2008 Overlawyered post on a convict’s hand-scrawled, soon-dismissed “ban the Bible” lawsuit to reflect the story’s re-emergence in recent days as a much-shared item at mostly conservative social media outlets, which have passed on the story as if it were a new and significant legal development, typically omitting its date, circumstances, and disposition.

Meanwhile, Raw Story has now corrected a post in which it claimed that Oregon cake bakers Melissa and Aaron Klein were fined for supposedly “doxxing” (maliciously revealing personally identifying information about) their adversaries. (It credits a Eugene Volokh post for flagging the error.) But the source on which Raw Story based its report, blogger “Libby Anne” at Patheos Atheist, still hasn’t corrected her deeply flawed account, which has now had more than 252,000 Facebook shares.

Please think before you share.


  • Also, on the substance of the sensational “doxxing” charge in the Oregon cake case, note commenter “No_Rush” at Patheos, excerpt:

    A complaint is a public document. Anyone can access it. Media outlets routinely do. The complaint was accessible online within days after the Facebook post….

    There is no affirmative legal obligation to redact public information, under Oregon or Federal law. Nor can the author suggest that the Kleins published the complaint [on their Facebook page] in order to publish the contact information. …The Kleins, defendants in a court case, had a valid reason to publish the complaint itself.

    • Consumer complaints are accessible online, but they don’t display the complainant’s PII.

  • […] Furthermore. Eugene Volokh shows that Raw Story got it wrong and, in a separate post, explains why he agrees with Walter Olson that the cease and desist order is overly broad. More from Walter here. […]