Google Ordered to Name Anonymous Online Bullies

Court says Google must unmask YouTube users who bullied NYC woman.

ByABC News
October 22, 2010, 11:44 AM

Oct. 22, 2010 — -- Internet bullies, listen up. If a New York court ruling is any indication, your cloak of anonymity may be more transparent than you think.

In August, Carla Franklin, 34, a New York business consultant and Columbia Business School graduate, filed legal documents asking Google to identify people who posted unauthorized videos of her on YouTube and made disparaging comments.

This week, she scored a victory. A Manhattan judge ordered Google, which owns YouTube, to turn over identity and contact information for the person or persons who posted the videos and insults online.

A Google spokesman declined to comment, saying that the company does not discuss individual cases. But Franklin said that the court ruling gives Google a couple of weeks to give her the IP (Internet protocol) addresses, e-mail addresses and other information of the users responsible for the harassment.

Once she has that information, Franklin said she plans to work with an investigator to track down the person she thinks is behind the online bullying.

"I'm so happy I'm finally going to be moving forward uncovering this person," she said in an interview with ABC News. "I feel so victorious. … It's definitely a weight lifted off of my shoulders. It's also a positive thing, in that people going through this type of defamation look at my case and they know, 'Wow, I can do this too.'"

Last year, while Franklin was interviewing for a new job, someone created a YouTube account displaying video clips of Franklin in a student production, her attorney David Fish said. Simultaneously, a YouTube user named "greyspector09" commented on a Columbia Business School YouTube video featuring Franklin and wrote defamatory comments next to clips of Franklin.

The YouTube channel and the comments have since been removed from the site, but Franklin said in her complaint to the court that the posts and comments "impute a lack of chastity," and the video damaged her business prospects and personal relationships.

"It was scary," Franklin told "I had enough and I just felt like what is next?"

She said she went to authorities, hoping to obtain a restraining order, but the police told her there was nothing they could do.

Scared for her safety and worried that the online slurs could harm her career prospects, she said she decided to take legal action.