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"Women named Jill and Hillary should be raped."

Those are the words of "AK-47" -- a poster to the college-admissions web forum AutoAdmit.com. AK-47 was one of a handful of students heaping misogynist scorn on women attending the nations' top law schools in 2007, in posts so vile they spurred a national debate on the limits of online anonymity, and an unprecedented federal lawsuit aimed at unmasking and punishing the posters.

Now lawyers for two female Yale Law School students have ascertained AK-47's real identity, along with the identities of other AutoAdmit posters, who all now face the likely publication of their names in court records -- potentially marking a death sentence for the comment trolls' budding legal careers even before the case has gone to trial.

The unmasking of the posters marks a milestone in a rare legal challenge to the norms of online commenting, where arguments live on for years in search-engine results and where reputations can be sullied nearly irreparably by anyone with a grudge, a laptop and a WiFi connection. Yet a year after the lawsuit was filed, little else has been resolved -- and legal controversies have multiplied. The women themselves have gone silent, and their lawyers -- two of whom are now themselves being sued -- are not talking to the press. Legal experts are beginning to wonder aloud if there's any point in pressing the messy lawsuit.

"You have good lawyers putting their time in on the case, and in a policy sense, they are achieving something, says Ann Bartow, an associate professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. "But in a victim sense -- assuming you think of the women as victims -- it's not clear what this is going to achieve."

The AutoAdmit controversy began even before one of the women, identified in court documents as "Jane Doe I," started classes in the fall of 2005, the lawsuit alleges. Doe I was alerted in the summer to an AutoAdmit comment thread entitled "Stupid Bitch to Attend Law School." The thread included messages such as, "I think I will sodomize her. Repeatedly" and a reply claiming "she has herpes." The second woman, Jane Doe II, was similarly attacked beginning in January 2007.

Both women tried in vain to persuade the administrators of the AutoAdmit.com site to remove the threads, according to the lawsuit. But then the story of the cyber-harassment hit the front page of The Washington Post, and the law school trolls became fodder for cable news shows. Soon after, the female law students, with help from Stanford and Yale law professors, filed the federal lawsuit in June 2007 seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

The Jane Doe plaintiffs contend that the postings about them became etched into the first page of search engine results on their names, costing them prestigious jobs, infecting their relationships with friends and family, and even forcing one to stop going to the gym for fear of stalkers.

"We have never had such a way to lie and distort facts about people -- to spread lies and distortions in a way that is attached to them," says Bartow. "And you can game it to come up on the front page of Google."

Bartow believes the problem lies in technology outstripping the law and our cultural responses. George Washington University Law Professor Daniel Solove, who's been thinking about the issue long enough to have written a book called The Future of Reputation, agrees. He says the law needs to change.

"The internet isn't a radical-free zone where you can hurt people. But on the other hand, we can't have everyone rushing to the court, because the court is a blunt tool," Solove says. "We need something to help shape norms -- there needs to be some kind of push back against the notion that the internet is a place where you can say what you want and screw the consequences. That's not what free speech is about."

Since libel lawsuits are mostly about clearing one's name, Solove finds himself lamenting the lost ritual of duels, which he describes as an elaborate nonjudicial way of settling disputes that rarely actually got to the shooting phase.

"We don't have any middle-ground dispute resolution processes in society anymore, and courts aren't a good way to vindicate these non-monetary harms," Solove says. "I think we need something else."

One idea gaining traction among legal thinkers would be DMCA-like legislation permitting victims of defamation to issue take-down notices, asking ISPs and websites to remove false and damaging user posts. If the service complies, it would be immune to any legal action.

But that regime hasn't worked entirely well with copyright -- false DMCA notices have been used by everyone from the Pentagon to the psychic Uri Geller to remove content from YouTube.

Jason Schultz, the acting director of the Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley, says it would be a mistake to bring that regime to bear on controversial speech online.

"I think you run the risk of too much take-down," Schultz says. The hurdles and expenses of a court fight act as useful checks on those who would suppress speech, he adds. "I think you need procedural hurdles in place since we are talking about a constitutional right."

Even relying on current liability law, the AutoAdmit case has trod on dangerous ground.

The lawyers for the two women originally named one of AutoAdmit's administrators, Anthony Ciolli, then a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania, as a defendant -- even though Congress intentionally shielded electronic service providers from responsibility for what their users post online.

Ciolli's former lawyer, Marc Randazza, says Ciolli never wrote anything defamatory, and was named in the lawsuit simply for leverage, in an effort to get the site owner to change how disturbing material was handled on AutoAdmit.

"As an attorney, I found it really offensive that Ciolli was being held hostage to these people's demands on a third party," says Randazza.

Solove is not nearly as sympathetic.

"Part of reason people were so upset with Anthony Ciolli was that they believe he stuck to his guns and defended things on free speech grounds," Solove says. "People want to see some sort of contriteness."

After months, the Jane Does finally dropped Ciolli from the lawsuit, but that did not satisfy Ciolli, who filed his own lawsuit in March 2008, accusing the women and their lawyers of improperly listing him among those who made the rude comments.

The women's lawyers -- Yale's David Rosen and Stanford's Mark Lemley -- declined repeated requests for comment.

A federal judge ruled in January that the attorneys could serve subpoenas on ISPs and webmail providers. Using that power, the lawyers have unmasked some -- though not all -- of the AutoAdmit posters.

Now they're asking the judge to give them additional time to try and determine the identities of the remaining defendants, who are currently being sued under their AutoAdmit handles: among others, PaulieWalnuts, Cheese Eating Surrender Monkey, The Ayatollah of Rock-n-Rollah, Patrick Bateman and HitlerHitlerHitler.

Online Anonymity Comes Under Fire

Study: Online Anonymity Critical

Attacks Fell an Online Community

Sours: https://www.wired.com/2008/07/autoadmit/
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AutoAdmit

Law forum

Autoadmitlogo.png

Type of site

Internet forum
Available inEnglish
OwnerJarret Cohen
Created byJarret Cohen
URLwww.autoadmit.com
CommercialNo
RegistrationRequired
Launched17 March 2004 (2004-03-17)
Current statusActive

AutoAdmit, also known as Xoxohth, is a website for prospective and current law students and lawyers. Its largely unmoderated law school message board is now the only active section, though it previously featured pages for undergraduates, business students, and graduate school, and recently[when?] introduced a crypto currency discussion page. The message board, which bills itself as "the most prestigious law school discussion board in the world", has drawn the attention and criticism of some in the legal community and the media for its lack of moderation of offensive and defamatory content.

History[edit]

AutoAdmit, originally named Xoxohth, was founded in early 2004 by Jarret "rachmiel" Cohen. It was programmed in PHP from scratch by Cohen and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student under the moniker "Boondocks" in order to emulate the old Allaire Forums software the Princeton Review message boards used. AutoAdmit's first users were dissatisfied with changes made to the Princeton Review message board in March 2004, such as stricter moderation of discussions and the abandonment of the message board's popular tree format in favor of a vBulletin-type format.[1]

The website was the inspiration for a 2007 call for papers by the Yale Law Journal on the topic of anonymous internet speech.[2]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Trolling[edit]

On 11 March 2005, Brian Leiter of the University of Texas at Austin accused AutoAdmit on his blog of being "a massive forum for bizarre racist, anti-semitic, and viciously sexist postings, mixed in with posts genuinely related to law school".[3]

AutoAdmit moderators countered that Leiter mischaracterized the website and that the professor of law and philosophy deliberately searched for racist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, chauvinistic, bigoted, and anti-Semitic threads in an attempt to misconstrue the site's focus on law school discussion. An AutoAdmit webpage dedicated to providing additional context was created by contributors to AutoAdmit.[4]

Anonymous speech and harassment[edit]

On 1 March 2007, ABC News profiled two Yale Law School students who alleged that harassing and defamatory comments had been posted about them on AutoAdmit.[5][failed verification] On 7 March 2007, The Washington Post published a front-page article featuring AutoAdmit that reported similar allegations and raised questions regarding freedom of speech and anonymity.[6] On 19 March 2007, an editorial by Elizabeth Wurtzel in The Wall Street Journal criticized the AutoAdmit law message board as a forum of "mean-spirited" gossip.[7]

The publicity created debate as well as a new wave of harassment of the Yale Law School students, including an incident that led Anthony Ciolli, a third-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania and one of AutoAdmit's administrators, to resign.[8] The law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge revoked an offer of employment to Ciolli; Charles DeWitt, managing partner at the firm's Boston office, explained to Ciolli via private correspondence, "We expect any lawyer affiliated with our firm, when presented with the kind of language exhibited on the message board, to reject it and to disavow any affiliation with it. You, instead, facilitated the expression and publication of such language."[9]

Deans from Yale Law School and the University of Pennsylvania Law School condemned the misogynistic and defamatory postings on AutoAdmit.[10] Others have noted that this behavior is so unethical as to jeopardize one's prospects for bar admission and employment. Brad Wendel, a legal ethics professor at Cornell Law School, wrote, "If I were one of the students who made some of the worst of these comments, I'd be sweating bullets right now."[11][12]

Lawsuits[edit]

Ambox current red Asia Australia.svg

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(January 2015)

On 12 June 2007, the two Yale Law School students filed a lawsuit against Anthony Ciolli and a number of AutoAdmit's anonymous posters, claiming their "character, intelligence, appearance, and sexual lives have been thoroughly trashed by the defendants".[13] Filed in the District Court of Connecticut, the case, Doe v. Ciolli, 307CV00909 CFD, cited violation of privacy, defamation, infliction of undue emotional distress, and copyright infringement against Ciolli and several anonymous posters. The two plaintiffs were represented pro bono by the litigation boutique Keker & Van Nest LLP, David N. Rosen, a Yale Law School professor, and Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford Law School who specializes in computer and internet law.[14] It was said at the time that while AutoAdmit's reported lack of IP logging might prevent the plaintiffs from learning the defendants' true identities, the case could prove significant within computer and internet law if it came to trial.[15] The plaintiffs subsequently dropped Ciolli's name from the list of defendants,[16] and successfully obtained Doe subpoenas of Internet service providers (ISPs) in hopes of identifying the anonymous defendants.[17] As of August 2008[update] the attorneys had discovered the names of some, but not all, of the offending posters.[18]

In March 2008, Anthony Ciolli filed his own suit against Heide Iravani, Brittan Heller, Ross Chanin, Reputation Defender, the law firm of Keker & Van Nest, as well as lawyer David N. Rosen and law professor Mark Lemley in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.[19]

Blake Neff controversy[edit]

In July 2020, Blake Neff, the head writer for Tucker Carlson Tonight, resigned from Fox News after it emerged he made anonymous posts on AutoAdmit that featured content that were racist, sexist, and homophobic in nature.[20]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^Hoffman, Dave (1 November 2006). "Xoxohth 1.1: The Past and Present". Concurring Opinions. Archived from the original on 6 September 2007. Retrieved 26 November 2006.
  2. ^Kerr, Orin (16 April 2007). "Legal Responses to Cyberbullying". The Volokh Conspiracy. Archived from the original on 23 May 2007. Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  3. ^Leiter, Brian (11 March 2005). "Penn Law Student, Anthony Ciolli, Admits to Running Prelaw Discussion Board Awash in Racist, Anti-Semitic, Sexist Abuse". Leiter Reports. Retrieved 26 November 2006.
  4. ^"Why Dr. Brian Leiter Hates Us". AutoAdmit. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  5. ^Marikar, Sheila (1 March 2007). "After Years of Telling All, 20-Somethings Start to Clam Up". ABC News.
  6. ^Nakashima, Ellen (7 March 2007). "Harsh Words Die Hard on the Web". The Washington Post. pp. A-1.
  7. ^Wurtzel, Elizabeth (19 March 2007). "Trash Talk". The Wall Street Journal (Editorial). Archived from the original on 23 March 2007.
  8. ^Hoffman, Dave (13 March 2007). "Penn Law Student "Resigns" From Xoxohth". Concurring Opinions. Retrieved 15 March 2007.
  9. ^Efrati, Amir (3 May 2007). "Law Firm Rescinds Offer to Ex-AutoAdmit Executive". Wall Street Journal blogs: law. Archived from the original on 5 May 2007. Retrieved 14 January 2015.
  10. ^Koh, Harold Hongju (9 March 2007). "Dean of Yale Law School condemns 'despicable' sexist attacks on students". Ms. JD. Archived from the original on 22 March 2007.
  11. ^"A Chat Site for Law Students Draws Fire for Allowing Personal Attacks". Wired Campus. The Chronicle for Higher Education. 14 March 2007. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007.[failed verification]
  12. ^Wendel, Brad (12 March 2007). "'This may be a subject of concern ...'". Legal Ethics Forum (blog).
  13. ^Solove, Daniel (12 June 2007). "The AutoAdmit Lawsuit". Concurring Opinions.
  14. ^Efrati, Amir (12 June 2007). "Students File Suit Against Ex-AutoAdmit Director, Others". blogs.wsj.com/law. Archived from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 12 June 2007.
  15. ^"Has AutoAdmit Been Pwn3d?". abovethelaw.com. 12 June 2007. Archived from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 13 June 2007.
  16. ^"Anthony Ciolli Dropped from Auto Admit Lawsuit". randazza.wordpress.com. 9 November 2007.
  17. ^"AutoAdmit Case Moves Forward; Federal Judge Approves Request to Subpoena ISPs for Clues to Anonymous Posters' Identities". Yale Daily News. 31 January 2008. Archived from the original on 3 February 2008.
  18. ^Law, Michael (5 August 2008). "The AutoAdmit Scandal: The XOXOTH Secret Forum Identities". Law Vibe. Archived from the original on 16 August 2008.
  19. ^"Complaint in Ciolli v. Iravani et al."(PDF). 4 March 2008.
  20. ^Darcy, Oliver (11 July 2020). "Tucker Carlson's top writer resigns after secretly posting racist and sexist remarks in online forum". CNN Business. Archived from the original on 10 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AutoAdmit
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Continue Learning at Loyola: Auto-Admit Merit Program

As a member of the Wolf Pack, you’ve already achieved so much. Whether you’re about to finish your undergrad experience or have graduated and eager to move up in your industry, a graduate degree can help you find your way. 

The Auto-Admit Merit Program offers automatic/expedited admissions to our top-performing Loyola graduating seniors and alumni (within the past 5 years) into a selection of master's programs. Additionally, students are eligible for significant merit discounts determined by their undergraduate GPA.

How It Works:
  • Eligilble students must meet the criteria of a 3.0 GPA for entrance into a master's program. Note: participating degree programs may have additional criteria for eligiblity.
  • Students will receive an email invitation with detailed instructions on how to apply for auto admissions. If you feel like you meet the criteria but haven't received an official invitation, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at [email protected] for more information.

Wherever you are on your journey, there’s more for you here at Loyola. Our grad school programs are here for your next step. Read on to learn more about our participating degree programs and auto-admit requirements. We hope that you find one that lives up to your goals.

Sours: https://www.loyno.edu/auto-admit

Com autoadmit

Students File Suit Against Ex-AutoAdmit Director, Others

In the latest chapter of the AutoAdmit.com scandal, two female Yale Law School students have sued Anthony Ciolli, the Web site's former chief educational director, and more than two dozen others who allegedly used pseudonyms and posted the students' photos as well as defamatory and threatening remarks about them on the online law-school discussion forum. Here's a copy of the amended complaint, as well as previous Law Blog posts (here, here and here) on the AutoAdmit controversy.

The law students aren't named in the suit -- filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Connecticut -- which claims the defendants violated copyright infringement by posting photos of one of the women without her permission, falsely posing as the women in posts on the site, and engaging in unreasonable publicity given to another's life; publicity that places another in a false light before the public; intentional infliction of emotional distress; negligent infliction of emotional distress; and defamation.

Sours: https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-LB-3962
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