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Anonymous Online Posting May Not Safeguard Individuals from Defamation Claims, Disclosure of Identity
Illinois
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Key point 4-02. Defamation consists of (1) oral or written statements about another person; (2) that are false; (3) that are "published" (that is, communicated to other persons); and (4) that injure the other person's reputation.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a person who allegedly was defamed by an anonymous post to an article in an online newspaper could compel the poster's Internet service provider to disclose his identity so that he could be sued. A newspaper's online edition published an article describing the decision of a local resident (the "plaintiff") to seek election to the county board of supervisors. Online readers could post comments in response to the article after completing a basic registration process. A few days later an individual using the name "Fuboy" posted a comment in which he described the plaintiff as "a Jerry Sandusky waiting to be exposed. Check out the view he has of Empire Elementary School." Fuboy also made a second comment, stating: "Anybody know the tale of [the plaintiff's] suicide attempt? It is kinda 'It's a Wonderful Life' with Pottersville winning out."

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Posted: October 28, 2015
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