Someone isdefaming,harassing,orextortingyou online,orperhapsinfringingyour copyrighted contentonline – but youdon’t know who! Unfortunately, defamation on social media is a common occurrence, specifically anonymous defamation on social media, so how do you sue someone if you don’teven know who theyare?Is it worth it?Can you uncover theidentityof the anonymousposter? Well the answer is yes, you absolutely can! Depending on the circumstancesof yoursituation, you may have theoptionto file a John Doedefamation lawsuit.
John Doe Lawsuit Definition
What is a John Doe Lawsuit?
When you take legal action against an unknown party, it is referred to as a “John Doe” lawsuitor an unknown defendant lawsuit.These typesof lawsuits usually occur whena plaintiffislegally “wronged” in one way or the otherby an anonymous website,blog,or social media account. Filing these typesof lawsuits mayalsohelpyouin the process ofuncoveringthe identity of the unknown defendant.
John Doe Lawsuit Example
Someone has written a fakeor defamatoryreview about your business onYelp!, RipOffReport, Googleor another platform. Now, your business issuffering,and you want to file a defamation lawsuitto get thefake or defamatoryreview removed, but first you need to discover who posted the anonymous review. Enter John Doe lawsuits! These lawsuits can also be used when an anonymous poster creates a defamatory YouTube video, website, or defamatorycommentary on your social media page.
Filing A John Doe Lawsuit
When should I file a John DoeLawsuit?
You should file a John Doe lawsuit as soon as you can. Even though youdon’tyet know theidentityof thedefendant,it isbest to fileyour defamation lawsuitas quickly as possible,becausethe statute of limitationsmayrunout, and important evidence may get deleted orremovedfrom internet servers.This is anotherreason whyJohn Doe lawsuits are helpful. They allow you to fileand preserve your evidence and claimsbeforeit’stoo late.
Reasons to File A John Doe Lawsuit
- An Anonymous Blogger is defaming you or your business
- Fake Google or Yelp! Review
- FalseRip Off Report Listing
- Copyright Infringement Online
- Revenge Porn
- False #MeToo Allegation
- Personal Injury– Hit and Run
Steps to File an AnonymousDefamationLawsuit
MakeSureYour Defamation Claim is Legit
Hire an Internet Defamation Lawyer
This process can be complicated, especially since defamation cases like these are unique and not every attorney is experienced in Internet law. It is best to contact an experienced Internet defamation attorneyto make sure all your bases are covered.
Your defamation lawyer will then evaluate your case and prepare a compliant based on the severity of the situation andwhat kind of damages you would like toseek.
Even though youdon’tknow the actual identity of the defendant, you need to send them a copy ofthecomplainton the same platform or website they are harassing you on.If they defamed you viaTwitter, DM them on Twitter. If they wrote an anonymous blog about you, send the complaint in via their contact page,orattach itin the comments if possible.If an anonymous poster wrote a Rip Off Report about you, you need to post the complaint on Rip Off Report. You get the idea.
Uncovering the Identity of the Anonymous User
Once you have made the unknown defendant aware that you are seeking their identity, you can begin the process of obtaining a subpoena to uncover their identity. In Arizona,therequirements to uncover an anonymousposter’s identitywith a subpoenais stated inTheMobilisav. Doecase, but the process is similar for other states as well.
Hypothetical Summary Judgement
Your lawyer will ensure that you have legit claims. As mentioned before, youmustmeet all therequirements for defamation within the statute of limitations. This means that you must be able to show a judge that your case can pass the summary judgment requirements without theidentifyof the anonymous poster.
Then, your attorney will conduct a balancing test in which you wouldevaluatewhetheryou couldidentifythis user any other way and whetherthere any other circumstances that weigh toward protecting the author’s anonymous rights.Basically, they will make sure there are no reasons a judge should stop you from obtaining the subpoena.
Obtainand Issuea Subpoena
Once permission has been granted, issue the subpoena to the website orplatformwhere thedefamatorycontent is being hosted as well as theInternet Service Provider (ISP).In many cases, this may include GoDaddyas many websites are registered with GoDaddy or with GoDaddy’s “Domains by Poxy”. DomainsByProxy is aservicethathidesthe name of the person who owns the site.SinceGoDaddy’sheadquartersarelocatedinArizona, it is important that your attorneyfollows the required steps outlined in theMobilisaV. Doe case mentioned above.
Within the subpoena, it is important to requestall ofthe necessary information that would help you obtain the anonymous John Doe defendant’s identity.But youhave tobe careful not to request information in a subpoena that is too broad.Examples of the type of information to ask forwhen issuing a subpoena to an online platformare as follows:
- Email addresses
- IP Addresses
- Browser type
- Operating System
- Time on Site
- Service provider
- Any info from Google Analytics,etc.
Then, if you are able to uncover the anonymous user’s identity, we can amend the complaint and switch out the “John Doe” for the defendant’s actual name!
Protect Your Reputation by Contacting a Defamation Lawyer Today
If you areseekingto file a John Doe lawsuit,or if you need to issue a subpoena to GoDaddy or other domain registration company,get in contact with an experienced Internet lawyer today. Our law firm has experience with these types of cases and can help youto try anduncover an anonymous identity, sue for defamation, and, ultimately, getthe content removed from online.