Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Internet anonymity and the higher law of Wall Street

Posted by Ron Coleman on July 17, 2007

Have I mentioned how against it, in its absolute form I am? It has its uses, yes; but defamation should not be one of them. Well, here’s an angle I hadn’t thought of: While libel and trade disparagement lawsuits lie gasping for air, how could I haveunknown-comic.jpg forgotten the omnipotent powers of the Securities and Exchange Commission?

The chief executive of Whole Foods Market Inc. apologized to shareholders on Tuesday for anonymously posting comments about his company on the Internet as the organic and natural foods grocer said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had launched a probe into the matter.

News of the SEC probe comes a week after court documents filed by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission revealed that Whole Foods Chief Executive John Mackey posted messages on a Yahoo! chat forum under an alias for years.

In the postings, Mackey talked up his company while predicting a bleak future for Wild Oats Markets Inc., the rival his firm is trying to acquire.

Maybe if the rest of us were publicly-traded issues, the law would protect us from web-based scoundrelry, too.


One Response to “Internet anonymity and the higher law of Wall Street”

  1. I know many owners of small software companies would love the ability to hunt down some pseudonymous participants of user reviews at download sites. It is difficult enough to start up a new business. When you start seeing suspicious patterns in user reviews, it can make your blood boil. It is widely known in Silicon Valley that some unscrupulous software companies use review sites as a means to bash their competitors.

    Still, I’d rather see the market sort those sorts of things on its own. It doesn’t seem too much to ask for Internet users to show some discernment when reading information online. After all, would you make business decisions on the basis of what someone wearing a mask told you?

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