ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The comments can be cruel, hurtful and often malicious. Lorelei Lee of Arlington found out the hard way when her friend, Flossie Carmichael, told her that they were the topic of a gossip website called, TheDirty.com. “I feel very helpless. There’s not much you can do,” explained Lee.
Both women are vintage pin-up models. Someone snagged their modeling photos off another website and posted them along with some harsh words on the TheDirty.com.
From there, the spiteful comments piled on, recalled Carmichael. “Very mean, and it just keeps going. Every day, more comments are added and it just keeps getting worse and worse,” she added.
Carmichael, a Fort Worth mother of two, also had her phone number posted, accompanied by a lewd comment.
Anyone and everyone is a target on TheDirty.com. The posts can be vicious and vulgar and often make fun of people’s weight, their sexuality, even their children.
“She’ll be able to read this one day,” said Kristi Fisher of Fort Worth. It hurts me, because it’s going to hurt her one day,” the single mother said with tears in her eyes.
Fisher says it was hard enough to read hurtful comments about herself, but when her 5-year-old daughter was brought into the conversation, anger turned into tears. “I broke down at work and started crying.”
Visitors to the website can click onto specific cities, even universities to post their beef. TheDirty.com is run by Nik Richie, but almost all of the posts are initiated by his readers.
That’s where the Communication Decency Act comes in. It protects websites from liability for comments posted by readers. ”However, the website and its owner can be held liable if the they’re made aware that the comments are slanderous and fail to remove them.
Dallas attorney Peter Vogel handles internet law and says slander is very difficult to prove. “The standard for cyber smear is, if there’s a grain of truth in the statement, it may not be slanderous,” Vogel explained.
Another option is to go after the person who posted the comment. Vogel says forcing websites to turn over someone’s contact information is legally time consuming and costly.
CBS 11 attempted to contact Nik Richie through his website. Our e-mails were not returned before our story aired.