Epic Games, creator of the popular online video game Fortnite, faces a whirl of legal challenges from the celebrities who popularized the dance moves used by its character emotes. Fortnite is free-to-play, but offers players accessories and character emotes through in-game purchases, which contributed to Epic Games achieving more than $1 billion in sales last year.
This week, the French parliament will debate proposed legislation that is designed to stop what it calls the “manipulation of information” and what is colloquially referred to as “fake news.” What differentiates this bill from similar ones currently under consideration by other countries, however, is that it would change the rules for speech in the time leading up to elections.
A recent case has raised questions about whether or not a media company can be held liable for defamatory statements made by its talent on social media. The case arose after a falling out between two television stars, Mykel Hawke and Joseph Teti. The deterioration of their friendship was lengthy and dramatic, involving alleged jealousy on the part of Hawke after his show was canceled, tension caused by the death of a mutual friend and several social media posts made by both parties. The conflict came to a head when Teti posted to his official social media fan page that three psychologists had diagnosed Hawke with having Narcissistic Personality Disorder and that the Army was revoking his Special Forces Tab. Hawke relied on these posts to file suit against Teti, bringing in Teti’s media company employer as a co-defendant.
Earlier this year, a resident private citizen filed suit against celebrity James Woods, alleging that he defamed her via his postings on a popular short-form social media. The current suit follows a similar case brought by Woods against private-citizen users for postings that he alleged defamed him. The contrast between these two suits highlights the liability to which both private and public figures leave themselves open in comments that may seem harmless in the moment.
Comet Ping Pong, a restaurant in Washington, D.C., is not home to a child-trafficking ring. That didn't stop Edgar Maddison Welch from conducting an armed “self-investigation” of the conspiracy theory that high-level Democrats ran such a child-trafficking ring from the back rooms of the pizzeria. Unfortunately for Comet Ping Pong and its owner, there appear to be few viable options to clear their name and seek redress for harm already suffered because of this viral rumor.
An online news magazine recently created a browser extension aiming to stop—or at least counter—the spread of fake news on social media. The extension, called “This is Fake,” allows users of certain web browsers to install a plug-in that allows those users to report possible fake news. The plug-in also informs users when an article linked on certain social media has been identified by the news magazine's editors as “fake news.” Additionally, the extension gives users an opportunity to easily leave a comment indicating the article’s fictitious nature on the social media post, alerting the poster and other viewers that the source is not reliable.
On July 8, 2016, the Supreme Court of Georgia affirmed the judgment of a trial court in a case involving Stanley Cottrell, Jr., who according to the court “engaged in a number of solo running exhibitions with a Christian evangelical emphasis, some of which have been portrayed in the media, and was subsequently involved in various multi-level marketing endeavors, executive leadership positions, and motivational speaking.”
On March 26, 2015, nine researchers published a study in the Environmental Science and Technology journal entitled “Impact of Natural Gas Extraction on PAH Levels in Ambient Air.” The study concluded that there may be a link between hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and an increased risk of cancer. According to one of the authors, “Air pollution from fracking operations may pose an under-recognized health hazard to people living near them.”