Could 'trolling' constitute 'cyber-stalking?' - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Could 'trolling' constitute 'cyber-stalking?'


GOODVIEW, Minn. (KTTC) -- Bad reviews are a potential deal breaker for any business, product or person.  But what if that person who wrote the review never tried the product?  Could there be legal consequences?

That's the question an independent writer in Goodview is asking himself after a handful of bad reviews on his books.  In one review, the person admits to never even reading his book.  Do false reviews violate any laws? Rick Carufel thinks it does.

"This book has zero sales.  And look, four 1-star customer reviews," said Carufel, pointing to his computer monitor.  Carufel has been writing for 15 years.  He has a number of hard copies and e-books, mostly of his highly opinionated points of view on major issues.  His big issue now is what he calls "serial cyber stalking."

One reviewer wrote, "I have not read Rick Carufels essay. Nor do I have any intentions of doing so. Nor do I feel the least bit guilty about writing a review nonetheless."

"Well, how can you possibly review a book you haven't read?" Carufel said.

In Internet terms, Rick was attacked by trolls.  "They try to destroy their careers.  They try to destroy book sales," he said.  "Face to face I do not know any of them."

Carufel was so outraged he called Amazon. He said he was told the so-called "review" could not be removed because it did not violate any policies.

He said his bigger question goes to Minnesota state law.  Is what these trolls are doing illegal?

Carufel contends it is "stalking."

The Minnesota State Statute 609.749 reads this way:  "stalking" means to engage in conduct which the actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted or intimidated, and causes this reaction on the part of the victim regardless of the relationship between the actor and victim.'

We did reach out to to verify its policies but our phone calls have not yet been returned.

Carufel does plan to file a complaint with the BCA to investigate if this constitutes serial cyber-stalking as the people who are trolling are spreading the word to others to leave poor reviews on his books.

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