The popular website called ShesAHomeWrecker.com can best be described as a “gossip” website that has the purpose of exposing persons engaged in adultery. As one court has stated, the website markets itself as a forum in which aggrieved wives can publicly shame women who allegedly have committed adultery with their husbands.
Users of the website can upload posts about specific persons — including a photo and name — accusing them of infidelity. For example, a recent post begins like this: “This woman has been sleeping with my stupid lying fiancé for months now. I was pregnant with our first child and we live in California…” The vast majority of targets are women, but men can be targeted, too. Another post begins like this: “This man will lie about how many children he has and his intentions with you…” Often locations are disclosed and, sometimes, home addresses are provided and some posts even list information about where the target works. Users upload their posts anonymously and not much is required from the website for use — just a name and an email address.
For obvious reasons, postings of this kind can be very damaging to the victim’s life, family and romantic relationships, reputation and can even adversely interfere with one’s ability to keep and find a job. This is particularly true when the information uploaded is false and/or misleading.
If You Have Been the Victim of False Allegations on ShesAHomeWrecker.com
Basically, there are two options:
- Have the posting removed by ShesAHomeWrecker.com — requires legal action
- Have the posting removed by the author voluntarily — via persuasion, negotiated settlement (often requiring payment) or via court order
With respect to the first option, it is difficult to have postings removed by ShesAHomeWrecker.com, but it can be done if a court order is obtained. The website’s Terms of Service state that the site “… will not remove content just because someone has made an unverified claim that a post is false.” The Terms of Service also state that “[d]isputes over the accuracy of content posted on SAHW should be resolved in court between the author of the post and the subject of the post.” Finally, the Terms of Service state that requests to remove a post will be denied ” … unless you have obtained a valid court order proving that something in a post is false …”
The most direct method of receiving a court order stating that false statements have been made in a ShesAHomeWrecker.com post is to sue the user for defamation. Generally speaking, to win a case for defamation, the victim must prove that the party being sued did the following:
- Published to a third party
- A false statement
- Without privilege or authorization
- That resulted in some form of harm
Under most defamation laws, certain types of false statements are considered harmful by their very nature. As such, a victim need not specifically prove that some harm resulted from the false statements. These types of statements are legally called “per se defamation.” Examples per se defamation include statements charging the victim with a serious crime, that are injurious to a person’s trade, business or profession, that impute someone has a loathsome disease, or that impute lack of chastity.
The main legal difficulty with suing for defamation is that truth is an absolute defense. Thus, to win a defamation case, the claim made on ShesAHomeWrecker.com must be false.
Note that copyright “takedown” notices are rarely effective with respect to ShesAHomeWrecker.com. A takedown notice is only applicable if the uploaded text or photograph are copyrighted and the copyrights are owned by someone other than the author/poster. Generally, users on ShesAHomeWrecker.com write their own text and upload their own photos. Thus, any copyrights tend to be owned by the users on ShesAHomeWrecker.com.
Possible Claims Against the User
In addition to suing for defamation, there are some other potential legal claims that can be pursued against the ShesAHomeWrecker.com user. But, winning these legal claims will not result in a court order stating that a false statement has been made and, thus, will not result in removal of a posting by ShesAHomeWrecker.com.
However, suing the user might result in the user voluntarily removing the post (via a negotiated settlement) or, potentially, a court order requiring the user to remove the post. In addition, success on these other claims might result in “justice being done” since money damages can be awarded against the person who posted on ShesAHomeWrecker.com. These other potential legal claims include
- Prima facie tort — allowed in some jurisdiction; to win, a victim must show intentional infliction of harm, without any excuse or justification, by acts which would otherwise be lawful
- Intentional infliction of emotional distress — elements include showing extreme and outrageous conduct that was intended cause severe emotional distress
- Criminal charge of stalking
- Tortious invasion of privacy — claim that the victim was placed in a false and negative light in the public eye
- Tortious interference with business or contractual relations — if the post resulted a provable lost contract or business opportunity
- And more
For more information, contact the trusted internet lawyers at Revision Legal at 231-714-0100.