What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California
There is a website called encyclopediadramatica and it claims its entries are protected as satire. Is there no line between satire and outright harassment? Saturday Night Live makes fun of celebrities without there being a clear attempt to destroy anyone. This site is quite different. Someone made an entry about me saying they can't wait for my death and making allegations that I am a thief and into fraud (neither true) and it has cost me business. The entry mixes some truths (such as I am trying to conceive) with outright lies (such as the thievery). The people who update this entry are going as far as stalkers, trying to find anything I've every done online, any website I've ever visited, where I've ever lived, etc., and are using what can be verified to try to bolster credibility for the rest. This is not satire. Advocating violence toward me and hoping for my death is not satire!!
The day after this entry was put online, with as much info as was there, a group of thuggish-looking guys came to my door. I didn't answer, but they returned several times over the next few days. A few times, when I didn't answer, I'd watch through the peephole and see them standing to the side, like they were hoping I'd eventually open the door. It got to the point I didn't even take my dogs outside to go to the bathroom and some of my friends and my fiancé were calling me multiple times to make sure I was okay. Some of my ex-boyfriends jumped in to try to defend me from what was going on because it was making them very angry.
This is having a real-world effect on my life, my business, and the stress is effecting my health. I mentioned moving in an online community and I'm being met with hostility based solely on that entry. If you look up my e-mail address, even my first name, the top entry is that entry. If I were to try getting a regular job instead of being in business for myself, or if any prospective clients were to do a search, that'd be the first thing they see. And employers DO research prospective employees online!! The website is almost a clone of the genuine wikipedia, so someone seeing this site doesn't always know it's not the genuine wiki. One of friends contacted me pissed off that the wikipedia would allow that, until I pointer out that it's the encyclopediadramatica, not the wikipedia. It reached a point a month back where I was close to killing myself to escape the phone calls and e-mails and from terror that the people who had been coming to my door were going to eventually hurt me. (They've since stopped coming.)
Though this part is small beans, they and stir up trouble in any I'm on trying to get me banned, and have successfully had me banned from several online forums and communities. They actually go out of their way to track down where I am online, and once thrat I know of they managed to use IP information to confirm someone they thought was me was indeed me (I used a very different handle than usual to try to go about my day without them knowing who I was, and they tracked me down anyway).
I'm already afraid for my future children. They've dragged my fiancé into it. They've dragged his ex-wife into it!! Thankfully she's a very sweet woman and wasn't angry with us for what they're doing. They went as far as to drag an ex's young daughter into it. They really go very far to find and spin things, making up stuff altogether as it suits them. I'd rather deal with being in the tabloid spotlight. At least the tabloids don't say they hope someone dies. I'm serious, the entry actually says that.
I'm afraid of contacting the website's owners because they have a "disclaimer" on their site saying that any correspondence to them they can publish and use as they see fit, and I don't want to be harassed anymore. They claim they aren't responsible for what's published because it's all protected under the first amendment (but, if that's the case, why would it be illegal for me to write online that my neighbor is a child molester just because I'm mad at him?). I tried deleting the entry and was banned and it was put right back up.
When "satire" begins to ruin someone's life and cause actual harm to business, is there any legal recourse? The damage to my reputation is far beyond repairable at this point, and I may have to change my name to make a fresh start. This is wrong. I shouldn't have to lose my name, part of my identity, and essentially go into hiding to get to lead a normal life.
If I were to take the owners of this website to court, what would be the chances I could win? I'm not going to ask if I CAN sue, because I know anyone can sue, but winning is a different matter. Or are they right in that this is all first-amendment stuff they aren't responsible for, and I'm out of luck? I would rather die than to have to keep allowing this abuse or go into hiding to get away from it. I don't know the names of the people doing this, but I do know the contact information for the people behind the website who are allowing this to go on.
They proudly refer to themselves as "snarkers", and are the bullies of childhood all grown up age-wise with more technology to allow their abuse to be worse than ever and whose parents can no longer punish them for trying to hurt the weaker kid on the playground.
Please tell me I have some legal recourse against the owners of the website. Sadly, I know I am not the only person these particular people have done this too.