Lawsuits over Internet comments may impact speech, experts say - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Lawsuits over Internet comments may impact speech, experts say

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The warnings have been out there to be careful what you say on social media. Now the penalties of not heeding that advice are coming.

For those who engage in social media, two cases should get your attention. Arguments were held Thursday in the Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader's defamation lawsuit against gossip website The Dirty, run by Nik Ritchie. Sarah Jones was awarded $338,000 last year for being called promiscuous, amongst other things.

But should the gossip site be immune, Jones's win last year got the attention of Internet giants Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon -- all companies that don't want to be held responsible for what people post on their sites. A law exists that broadly protects websites from lawsuits, though there may be a key difference in this case: Ritchie often adds his own comments to stir the pot.

Just last week we learned 50 Cent may not wield the magic stick when it comes to social media. He made a blistering comment about a performer in one of his music videos for posting a picture, slamming her on Instagram as "self-serving." She is suing for $10 million, saying his comment caused her to lose three job offers.

In the comment slamming that performer, 50 Cent also hash-tagged a line of headphones. Experts say that may come back to cost him, if that slam is seen as an opportunity to promote some other project of his.

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