Topix at Hand

 Recently, in many rural American cities, gossip forums have become widely popular. Mainly in small Southern towns, these forums are  breeding pools for rumors centered about a certain person, or just gossip in general- usually very controversial or negative gossip. With this gossip comes hurt and anger to many.

One of these community-wide blogs is Topix. Topix, which is owned by multiple large newspapers companies, lets its users post anonymously about any topic of their choosing. Each community is able to create a forum for their respective town, and Topix does not require its users to use their real name or provide any sort of information which will be available to others. Because Topix has thrived in small towns, many of its readers know exactly who the post pertains to– even if the victim is left unnamed. Recently, The New York Times published an article about Topix which focuses on a female victim whose life was ruined when there was post referring to her as “a methed-out, doped-out whore with AIDS.” These forums are tearing small, close-knit communities apart. So why are they so popular? Do the residents really have nothing better to do?

Because Topix is an Internet forum, Federal Law forbids libel suits against it. However, if posters’ identity is found out they can in fact can be sued. The Times  also reported that Topix has said they receive about one supoena a day for the identity of an unknown user.

I can understand that this is the Internet and people are allowed to basically say whatever they want. But when does that go too far? Is it fair to be able to post what can be completely false information about a foe just to ruin their reputation or even life?


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