[…] after a certain writer, Sonya Larson, sued a former colleague, Dawn Dorland, all of Sonya’s chats and communications about Dawn suddenly became discoverable. There was no longer the expectation of relative privacy.
Consider this case, for a moment, not from Sonya’s perspective, nor from Dawn’s, but from the perspective of the other people in the chats. Suddenly, every unkind thing they’d ever said about a woman was out in the world. Sonya sued in 2019. The viral New York Times piece about the dispute between her and Dawn came out in 2021. So you’re already dealing with years of potential pressure, before you are in the spotlight, and you frankly look bad.
You don’t need to be a well-connected writer type to have this happen to you. Think about a relative in a group chat going through a bad divorce. Or maybe someone you’re close to is pursuing defamation case.
Point is, that feeling of intimacy you have when you are in a group chat with the like-minded should not give you a false sense of security.
This shouldn’t feel stunning but somehow does, maybe because I’m used to thinking about things in terms of warrants. What kind of server-side purging policy of old messages can protect one without getting in the way all the time? How do you balance this with the cool stuff you can do with private data archiving? Maybe it’s fine as long as other people’s lawyers don’t know to ask you for your private copies…?
I did think that Larson and her friends came off terribly, and it’s a little saddening to see people acting like it’s normal to be that mean in a private chat. But dear God–I talk about embarrassing stuff all the time that I wouldn’t want some lawyer to be able to paw through, to say nothing about public filings!
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