Room110.com takes social networking too far

‘Gossip Girl-type’ website is risking legal action for so-called campus exposure

Room110.com, a self-proclaimed “Gossip Girl-type” website, bills itself as the next step in the evolution of campus social interaction. “Everyone talks about everyone, and now it can finally be done out in the open, in a fun, free environment,” a spokesman for the company said.

Fair enough. But that’s not what’s happening on the site. What is being posted is, by and large, pictures of scantily-clad young women in compromising situations with offensive comments as captions. There are a number of problems with this reality.

Free-speech laws in Canada are not what they are in the U.S. Under Canadian law, postings to a website that are offensive, demeaning and cruel can be met with strong legal action.

A website that promotes the idea that it’s okay to publish photos of young women coupled with comments that profess girls from that campus “will lick anything” or posting photos of girls at the gym hoping the poster “had a chance” is offensive to everyone.

As the distributor of this material, Room110.com is walking a thin line. And an option to request that material be removed in the site’s disclaimer doesn’t cut it. Under Canadian law, if any of these girls files a defamation action against the website, the assumption of innocence until proven guilty goes right out the window. The courts will automatically assume that the site posted the material knowing that it was defamatory, that damage was done to the individual’s reputation and it will be up to Room110.com to prove the contrary. It won’t be easy.

While it is not up to individual university administrations to question new websites and new ways that students choose to interact with them, those websites need to be wary of how their users are engaging with their products. In the case of Room110.com, the user base has exposed the site’s owners to legal action, along with themselves. And they should be listening to the trove of university administrators who are now calling for parts of the site to be removed.

Free speech is not a guaranteed right in Canada. And Room110.com should know that before they publish much of what is on their site.




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Room110.com takes social networking too far

  1. I decided to make an account on this website to see exactly what was going on. I was so apalled by the contents of this website and even more astonished at the fact that someone could be so cruel as to ridicule and humiliate people they may not even know. I am disappointed that such a website could even be created, not to mention numerous other websites that are legitimazed on the ever-expanding internet. I hope that these people who are being libeled on this website will take legal action against this because it is simply not acceptable, and this needs to be made an example of.

  2. I think people need to just lighten up and have fun. Obviously its just a funny website.

  3. Heard the website is run from the United States, thus deflunking this article. On a side note: I hope they don’t post me on it.

  4. TJ:

    According to the site’s spokesperson, the website is actually only run out of Canada at the moment with hopes of expanding to the U.S. But if it were the other way around, Canadian laws still apply to services rendered in Canada even if they didn’t originate there.

  5. “Free speech is not a guaranteed right in Canada.”

    Ms. Webb, please pick up a pocket copy of the Canadian Constitution and then revisit your sentence. Free speech is most definitely a legal right. That said, those who use that right to publish material that is deliberately hateful or incorrect as to cause irreparable damage to one’s reputation, will be forced to take responsibility for what they say.

    On a personal note, I think that as funny as some of the comments on the site may seem to people, this Room110 website is offensive and disgusting. It is also, unfortunately, one of the potential risks to having a culture so open to free speech. Despite criminal libel laws in Canada, we continue to see the same sort of malicious comments from one to another online, on every social networking site from MySpace to Facebook and now to this sorry excuse for exam-time procrastination.

    As a university student myself, I’m appalled that my fellow students could be so malicious and short-sighted to see that this sort of online conversation has more far-reaching effects than making these sorts of comments with the guys/girls over a couple of beers. The problem, Ms. Webb, is not only with Room110.com, and it is certainly not with the inability of Canadian Law to address defamation. Even if some individuals come forward to charge the creators of Room110.com with criminal libel, the consequences are not likely to be handed down to the actual authors of the hateful remarks due to Canadian Privacy law.

    It’s unfortunate, but people think this kind of talk is appropriate online. I’m not so hopeful that a lawsuit can fix that.

    These sorts of discussions

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