Judge: 'Skanks in NYC' blogger may be unmasked

A New York court rules that Vogue cover model Liskula Cohen has a right to learn the identity of a blogger who called her, among other things, a skank.

Chris Matyszczyk
2 min read

I know that some people have pleasures that are not entirely innocent.

They go to sites such as What Would Tyler Durden Do? or Dlisted to read the occasionally besmirching remark aimed at those more famous, wealthy, and beautiful than themselves.

Sometimes, the bloggers behind these bastions of moral sure-footedness prefer to remain anonymous. However, a court ruling on Monday in New York might change that.

Liskula Cohen, a Vogue cover model, won an interesting case against the nameless blogger behind the erudite site Skanks in NYC.

Well, perhaps not. CC Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com/Flickr

Judge Joan Madden ruled that Cohen is entitled to know the identity of the blogger as phrases such as "psychotic, lying, whoring...skank" might possibly be defamatory.

Initially, Cohen sued in January, asking the court to order Google, which was host to the site on Blogger, to reveal its author's identity.

In this proceeding, the judge declared that Google must inform the blogger that he or she should probably get a lawyer, as there is a risk of unmasking.

The blogger's lawyer claimed that the views expressed were "hyperbole" and that blogs "have evolved as the modern-day soapbox for personal opinions."

The lawyer also offered the view that blogs have "mere venting purposes, affording the less outspoken a protected forum for voicing gripes, leveling invective, and ranting about anything at all."

I wasn't entirely aware of that.

And the judge seems to have looked somewhat askance at these arguments. Especially, it seems, when she saw that the hyperbolic comments were placed near somewhat-provocative pictures of the model.

Judge Madden declared that placing such epithets as "ho" and "skank" next to these images might create "a negative implication of sexual promiscuity."

It is not for me to say why anyone would wish to create a blog called Skanks in NYC (the blog was taken down in March).

However, it will be interesting to see, as this lawsuit progresses, just what implications it might create for those who choose to blog anonymously and call people rather rude things.