Cybersmear: Effects & Responses Case Analyses Essay Example

It is indeed true that the Internet has really changed the manner for which individual and corporates communicate. Lots of information is now being shared at an increasing rate since a substantial amount of communications can now be executed within a shorter period of time. In fact, the Internet wide varieties of chat rooms, websites, list serves, post sites as well as web boards provide a fundamental set of platform for people to engage in sharing of either fact of opinions so that any given person can reach a countless number of people at robust speed levels; minimal costs and restrictive set of consequences.

In a case involving Varian Medical Systems Inc., Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates Inc., and a set of two companies’ executives, was awarded a total of $775,000 as both compensation and punitive damages by a jury in California (American Bar Association 2002, p.2). The judgement was based on two former employees; Delfino and Mary Day, using different set of pseudonyms, took to a substantial number of boards and posted in excess of 15,000 messages. These messages were mostly repeated in the company’s website and alleged Varian and some of the executives videotaped existing employees and children in bathrooms; that the firm operated under a workplace environment that was highly discriminatory and propagated elements of harassment and that there was a homophobic top-level executive who would not easily hire women in the event that he knew they were pregnant (American Bar Association 2002, p.2). The two former employees were each faced with litigation suits and an injunction preventing them from engaging defamatory remarks was issued. They faced a possible 5 days in jail for each of the violation committed. For this case, the organisation, Varian’s response was effective in the sense that it managed to file a suit in a timely manner hence preventing the two former employees from continuing with their mission of painting the company and executive negative through court injunction (Lubel & Morgan, 2004). The two individuals were each subjected to a lawsuit that prevented them from engaging in additional posting of messages about the company prior to their case being determined. This means that Varian acted quickly to protect its image and that of its employees. According to Philips (2012, p.2), it can be a quite a challenge for an organisation to pursue defamation claims against former employees that engage in cyber-smear. One way of going about this is to adopt filing for alternative claims like unfair competition claims. For instance, Varian could have informed the court that the two former employees were spreading lies and propaganda about the company in an effort to compete unfairly with its operations.

In a case involving AnswerThink Inc., which is a Miami-based organisation brought a lawsuit against a pseudonym; Aquacool 2000 that engaged in posting of confidential company information as well as negative comments in Yahoo (American Bar Association 2002, p.2). The unknown account posted defamatory statements against employees of the company. The company’s responded by issuing Yahoo with a subpoena and later learned the account to have belonged to a specific company executive who was later dismissed from his post (American Bar Association 2002, p.2). The response was effective since it made sure to respond quickly by contacting Yahoo for information pertaining to the account that was later deciphered and traced back to a company executive that was dismissed. The immediate dismissal of the executive allowed the company the protection it needed from being targeted unfairly by the now former employee. Lubel and Morgan (2004, p.1-2) ascertains that in such situations can be fairly mitigated by utilizing technologies to the maximum. The firm should ensure to develop internally or even hire outside service providers to formulate such important tools as computer logs as well as other recording devices that could be used to instantly identify the names behind the pseudonyms. A perfect example is to use re-mailers and other forms of improved technology in order to possibly regulate underlying electronic communications and thereby identify its source as a whole (Lubel & Morgan, 2004). Another fundamental response encouraged is for companies making sure to enact stringent employee policies that lay out immediate consequences of spreading privileged or even untrue information about an organisation within the different online platforms. This can be effectively done by way of providing distinct guidelines on what forms of information about a company that employees should never discuss within the different online platforms (Lubel & Morgan, 2004). A perfect example would be to create policies that discourage employees from using company computers to post messages online while they are at work. Organisations can also add disclaimers in their employment agreements that allow them the opportunity to monitor employees’ activities while at work.


American Bar Association. (2002). Employee cybersmear: Harassment or Free Speech? Orick. Accessed from

Lubel, A & Morgan, J. (2004). Fighting ‘Cybersmear’: How to protect your company against anonymous Internet postings’ Atlantic Coast In-House. Accessed from

Philips, F. (2012). ‘Fighting back against Cybersmears’Labor Letter. Accessed from