Gossip Gone Wild

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"What this amounts to is not an enforcement but pressure,'' Harvard Law professor John Palfrey said. "These are shots across the bow, telling these sites 'we care about this, and even if we don't have an explicit legal hook we're still going to be on your case."

Indeed, pressed about the viability of a civil prosecution, Milgram told ABC News that while she fully intends to go to trial if the subpoenas bear out the findings of her investigators, her office has in the past negotiated agreements with other sites that satisfied both sides and precluded a trial.

She said that one of her most pressing concerns about Juicycampus.com was the seeming inability of victims of malicious gossip to seek redress through the site.

Other sites that have been targeted by her office have agreed to create "Report Abuse'' icons that make it easier for complainants to contact the site and have offensive or abusive material removed, she said.

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