Welcome to our new and improved legal FAQ page. As the name suggests, we originally created this page to help answer our most frequently asked questions. Our goal was to help make things clearer for people.
Unfortunately our plan backfired. Rather than reducing confusion, the old page was so long and so complicated that very few people actually read it. As a result, we have received more and more emails asking the same questions over and over. It's gotten to the point that we are overwhelmed with emails with hundreds more arriving every day.
99.9% of these emails ask one of the same three basic questions. Accordingly, we have decided to drastically simplify this page by addressing only those three questions. If you have a question that isn't one of the three below, you may want to scroll through the old/longer FAQ page here. However, to avoid any confusion, effective immediately the policies/procedures described on our old FAQ page are no longer valid.
In a word — NO. Under a federal law known as the Communications Decency Act or “CDA”, website operators like TheDirty are generally not liable for “publishing” content from third party users.
This does NOT mean you are helpless if someone has posted false information about you. You can always sue the author. You just can’t sue us for running an online forum that someone else misused.
If you are a lawyer and want to know more about the CDA, please read this: Jones v. Dirty World, LLC, 755 F.3d 398 (6th Cir. 2014).
If you are NOT a lawyer, just watch this:
NOTE — this news story was published in June 2014, and the plaintiff did not ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. This means the judgment in favor of TheDirty is final.
There are two main ways to remove a post:
1.) With a court order; and
2.) Policy violations.
Details for both are explained below.
COURT ORDERED REMOVALS
Most people ask us to remove posts because they claim the post is false. Unfortunately, we are not the Truth Police. We cannot resolve factual disputes between strangers. Therefore, we will not remove posts simply because one party makes an unproven claim that a post contains false information.
Instead, we generally will not consider removing content unless a court has determined the speech in question is false. However, filing a lawsuit is not always the best solution. For one thing, filing a lawsuit creates a permanent public record of the matter and can have unforeseen harmful consequences. Thus, before you file any lawsuit, you should consult with a lawyer in your area who has substantial experience dealing with Internet law matters. We strongly recommend that you do not take advice from any attorney who does not have experience in this area because the rules which apply to online matters are unique and are not familiar to most lawyers.
If a court determines that a post contains false statements of FACT (opinions cannot be false), we will review the order and, subject to our final editorial discretion, we may remove any false factual content.
If you have obtained a court order that you want us to consider, please email a copy of the order to us at [email protected]. Please be aware that we will contact the court to confirm the order, so please don’t even think about trying to send us a fake/forged order.
Although it is our policy to comply with any valid/lawful court orders, we can’t promise that we will always comply with every order or judgment we receive. Also, to avoid any confusion caused by cases such as Barnes v. Yahoo!, Inc., 570 F.3d 1096 (9th Cir. 2009), nothing on this page or in our Terms of Service should be construed as a promise to remove any content; removal is always subject to our final editorial discretion.
NOTE — Because we are not liable for third party speech, it is not appropriate for you to name TheDirty.com as a party to a lawsuit you file against the author of a post. If you do name TheDirty as a defendant, we will not consider removal of your post under any circumstances.
ALSO NOTE — The above discussion is offered solely to explain our general policies. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it represent an exhaustive overview of the law.
POLICY VIOLATION REMOVALS
If you don’t have a court order, you still have other options. We will gladly consider removal requests for content that violates our policies such as:
1.) Child porn;
2.) Revenge porn/explicit nudity (NOTE — a post that doesn’t contain explicit nudity is not revenge porn);
3.) Images of minors 13 or under (except when relevant to a news story; i.e., a kidnapping case);
4.) Personal financial information such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers;
If you want us to consider removing content that violates any of the above policies, please send us an email to:[email protected]. Please modify the subject line of your message to identify which type of policy violation you are reporting; e.g., “Policy Violation Removal Request – Revenge porn”.
NOTE — we ONLY consider policy-based removals when the content falls into one of the four categories listed above. Accordingly, we won’t consider any request such as: “Policy Violation Removal Request – False post”.
Also, reports of child porn are taken VERY seriously. However, if a post doesn’t contain any nudity at all, then it’s not child porn (a photo of a person in a bathing suit is never porn). In plain English, please don’t cry wolf by sending us a child porn report when the post doesn’t contain anything pornographic. Fake reports like this are no laughing matter.
Regarding revenge porn — this topic is too long and complicated to fully discuss here. However, if someone has submitted a nude photo of you without your consent, please let us know immediately and we will gladly investigate and remove it if appropriate. Again, do NOT send us fake revenge porn complaints….in other words, if a photo is merely suggestive or mildly embarrassing (but no nudity is shown), or if the post is simply talking about sexual issues, then it’s not revenge porn. Revenge porn only applies to nude/pornographic images, so if a post does not show any such images, then it’s not revenge porn.
If you want the name/IP address of a user who posted something on our site, the process for that is simple — YOU MUST HAVE A SUBPOENA. We will not, under any circumstances, provide any information about a user of our site without at least a subpoena.
The reason for our policy is simple — the First Amendment protects the right to anonymous speech. This means that if a person posts something anonymously on TheDirty, they have the right to remain anonymous unless you demonstrate that you are legally entitled to discovery the author’s identity. That’s why you MUST have a subpoena, and you must demonstrate that you have satisfied the applicable legal standards for unmasking an anonymous author.
The general standard we follow is the one described in Mobilisa v. Doe, 217 Ariz. 103, 170 P.3d 712 (App. 2007). For more information, please review this page.
NOTE — We will NOT, under any circumstances, provide author information in response to a Rule 224 petition from Illinois. Each state has the right to control the manner and method by which records are produced within the borders of that state, but no state has the right to command the production of records from another state that violates the law of the place where the records are kept. See, e.g., Yelp, Inc. v. Hadeed Carpet Cleaning, Inc., 770 S.E.2d 440 (Va. 2015) (a Virginia court has no authority to order Yelp.com to produce records located in California) (citing extensive authority).
An Illinois Rule 224 petition may be an appropriate tool for obtaining records located in Illinois. However, Dirty World’s records are not located in Illinois and Illinois Supreme Court 224 does not comply with the legal requirements established by Arizona law. For that reason, if you obtain an order purporting to require us to produce records under Rule 224, you should expect that we will not comply with the order, and we may, if necessary, file a lawsuit against you in Arizona seeking declaratory relief.