In 2018, the world is no longer outside our windows, but rather it is just behind the screens of our laptops, tablets, or smartphones. This modern shift in how our society conducts itself opened the door to a distinct sub-breed of humanity." the cyber bully, the "troll, " the troubled person finding therapeutic escape by attacking others from the safety of a desk chair. The ability to post anonymously empowers this portion of society to humiliate, harass, and destroy the lives of others, often doing so with a disconnect between the real world and online.
The harm caused by anonymous postings has made its way to the courts numerous times. Plaintiffs seek retribution in some form, but in order to build their case they must first ascertain the identity of their abuser. The problem is that the First Amendment of the Constitution not only protects free speech, it also protects anonymous speech. Thus, courts must perform a balancing act.: the interest in the right to speak anonymously versus a plaintiff's right to seek redress. Courts have struggled applying this balance, and the result has been a lack of consistency or certainty as to what a plaintiff and an anonymous defendant can expect in any given case. This Comment examines past decisions applying this balance, the history behind the established right to anonymous speech, and proposes a type-based method solution.
Taylor McCallman, The Shadow in the Comments Section: Revealing Anonymous Online Users in the Social Media Age, 41 Campbell L. Rev. 225 (2019).