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article imageRow over ability to comment on science freely continues

By Tim Sandle     Apr 4, 2015 in Science
A defamation lawsuit involving anonymous comments on the post-publication peer review website continues. In a new twist, a judge has decided that the names of an anonymous poster must be revealed.
The issue is about a science website where people can "freely" comment about scientific papers although the fall-out could, in theory, affect any website that includes a comments section (including this one.) Last month Digital Journal reported that a judge in Wayne County, Michigan has sided with the website PubPeer. This was to allow the website to continue to keep its participants’ identities secret. A Wayne State University pathologist had sued the site, requesting that the website provide the names of people who had criticized his work on PubPeer.
This wasn't the end of the issue, however. A different Michigan Circuit Court judge has asked PubPeer to now provide information about an anonymous commentator at the center of the ongoing lawsuit, according to the website Retraction Watch.
The person bringing the lawsuit — Fazlul Sarkar — argues that he lost a job because of anonymous criticisms posted to PubPeer. For this reason he is suing certain users of the site. He cannot do so until he knows who those people are.
Reacting to the news, Alexander Abdo, PubPeer’s attorney stated: "We are disappointed with the ruling and are weighing our options for how to continue to fight for the right to anonymity of PubPeer’s commenters."
Any comments on the subject of commenting anonymously or not are welcome. Please use the comments section below.
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