Gossip Gone Wild


"I think a lot of the posts are pretty despicable, but I don't see the need for this kind of legal action,'' said Jacob Savage, 23, a recent graduate of Princeton University and editor in chief of Ivygateblog.com.

"The vast majority of the post are 'is this kid hot?' posted by the kid's friends," Savage said. "I think a lot of it is being overblown. I think the reaction should be 'let it die.' I honestly believe that if people gave it six months and no more media attention, it would go away.''

He said he and his Ivygateblog colleagues "have decided it's not worth writing about, even for us. ... It's sort of ridiculous."

Not to Sarah Ferguson, a current Princeton undergraduate, who said she was unfairly targeted by someone who posted about her on the site.

"It seemed as though the latest postings on JuicyCampus were all that was talked about in the dining halls, echoing up dorm stairwells, over cell phone conversations and whispered at the eating clubs," Ferguson told the Newark Star Ledger. "As someone who was libeled ... I felt as if eyes were following me on my way to class and out with friends, and thought I could hear my name in the whispers of my peers."

'Really Troubling'

Six weeks ago New Jersey State Attorney General Anne Milgram's office received a complaint from an individual who had been written about on the site. Milgram wouldn't provide any more information about the alleged victim, but said the complaint prompted her office's investigation.

"This is a really troubling Web site that's got some really offensive stuff on it,'' Milgram told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit Wednesday.

She has subpoenaed records from the site to confirm her investigators' belief that its terms of service commit the site to police abusive or offensive material but that it fails to enforce those restrictions.

"They're basically saying 'we won't allow there to be abusive behavior on this Web site,' or 'if you're under 18 you need parental consent' to use the site, but our investigators found these representations were not being followed through on," Milgram said.

"One of the things that concerns me the most is that [anonymous posters] give out personal information about the [targeted] individuals -- names, phone numbers, dormitory room numbers,'' as well as gender, sexual orientations and religious preferences, she said.

Ivester did not respond to ABC News inquiries Wednesday. Late in the day a public relations firm representing the site declined to comment.

Site 'May Have Hanged Itself on Its Own Words'

"I've never seen this kind of [legal] step before,'' said Michael Fertik, founder of ReputationDefender.com, an online service that for a fee will scour the Internet for inaccurate information about its clients and seek to have it removed.

Fertik said that to his knowledge previous prosecutorial actions against Web sites have been aimed at protecting against the abuse of children.

"It's been, to date, kind of save-the-children-type legal actions, not save the young adults," he said.

"This is not a discussion of free speech, it's a question of basic consumer protections, and if that's the case, Juicycampus.com may have hanged itself on its own words. If it does not actually do what it says it's going to do'' the site could be liable for consumer fraud violations, Fertik said.

Fertik said that colleges and universities are increasingly finding themselves caught over a barrel when it comes to sites like Juicycampus.

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