-4

Is the following statement reasonable?

"It seems to me that since you are not a public figure, you should be permitted to control your own name and they should not be able to simply include you in their site against your wishes."

Is it viable to ask RateMyProfessors.com to remove my entry based on this argument when there are defamatory posting on the site?

6
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it does not appear to be about law. Aug 19, 2018 at 3:28
  • Can I make this claim in the court? Can I use this claim to request the deletion of my name from a third-party website?
    – David
    Aug 19, 2018 at 3:39
  • 2
    You can claim anything you want in court or in some sort of demand letter to a website; that doesn't mean it will convince them. Or somehoe prove that you even have a case making such a claim; which is pointed out in answers to your earlier questions about ratemyprofessor and Google search results. Aug 19, 2018 at 4:01
  • I would not vote to close the question, although I would strongly encourage the OP to edit it so as to add sufficient context and to clarify what he intends to ascertain. The bare assessment as quoted in OP's question seems inaccurate both from the standpoint of defamation law (per OP's recent inquiry ), and of privacy (per this question's tag). Merely listing a person's name on a website of unspecified nature & content does not violate U.S. laws. Aug 19, 2018 at 11:15
  • Possible duplicate of Cyberstalking and RateMyProfessors.com
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 21, 2018 at 0:09

2 Answers 2

-1

is it viable to ask RateMyProfessors.com to remove my entry based on this argument when there are defamatory posting on the site?

Absent any compelling circumstances, I doubt it. By compelling I mean scenarios where a risk of serious or irreversible damage is imminent (for instance, a false accusation of rape). You might want to read the terms & conditions of RateMyProfessors, as I am unsure even of whether that website allows professors to refute the concerns raised in reviews.

The assessment you quoted about not being a public figure is inaccurate and has no bearing on defamation/privacy law. The status of private figure does not elicit a prohibition to cite the person's name in a normal website.

If a post's defamatory content relates to your profession, and is objectively verifiable as false, then many jurisdictions would --at least in theory-- recognize that you have a valid claim of defamation per se (meaning that no damages need to be proved because they are presumed). That also would occur if serious crimes are falsely imputed to you.

Additionally, if it can be proved that the defamatory falsehoods impaired your employment or career (even if in terms of demotion or inconvenient relocation), you might also have a valid claim of defamation with special damages.

If there are any defamatory falsehoods, you would have to proceed against the author(s) rather than RateMyProfessors. Since you are unlikely to know beforehand the authorship of the defamatory falsehoods, the initial complaint would be made against "defendant(s) Doe". Special care is needed in jurisdictions (such as Texas and Florida) that require the plaintiff to request a retraction prior to filing suit.

That being said, it is noteworthy that not all negative or disparaging reviews are actionable. Defamation law only relates to statements of fact, not statements of opinion. That is because, unlike opinions, only statements of fact are susceptible of being objectively verifiable as false.

2
  • 1
    This far overstates the authority of a court to intervene. A false accusation of rape would not qualify and injunctions are generally prohibited in defamation cases. Section 230 also means that the website has no liability at all.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 21, 2018 at 0:03
  • @ohwilleke Your "corrections" toward obfuscating my answer are wrong. (1) I remitted the OP to RateMyProfessors' T&Cs, but nowhere did I state that the court will issue an injunction. (2) Even if I did state that, you would still be wrong: see last paragraph of Balboba v. Lemen, 57Cal.Rptr.3d 320, 329 (2007) about libelous speech. (3) Your mention of "no website liability" is unwarranted and redundant because I literally wrote in my answer that the OP "would have to proceed against the authors(s) rather than RateMyProfessors". Aug 21, 2018 at 7:57
2

Is the following statement reasonable?

"It seems to me that since you are not a public figure, you should be permitted to control your own name and they should not be able to simply include you in their site against your wishes."

It might be a reasonable statement of what some people think that the law should be, but it is not an accurate statement of the law. The First Amendment denies you the right to control your own name and you have absolutely no right to prohibit a website from including it against your wishes.

You've asked this questions multiple time in different guises and the answer is the same.

Is it viable to ask RateMyProfessors.com to remove my entry based on this argument when there are defamatory posting on the site?

No. Defamation is never a valid ground to force a website to remove user content. You could sue the person posting it for defamation if you did so within the short statute of limitations and you could figure out who made the post, but you also can't sue a website for user content as a result of Section 230. Also, even if you prevailed against the user who posted the content, a takedown order would not bind the website.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .