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When the Shitty Media Men list surfaced in October of last year, it was intended as sort of a “whisper network” for female journalists to flag men working in the industry who were known for sexual misconduct in the workplace. In the space of about one day over 70 male journalists were exposed; however the list was quickly removed as it went viral and the creator, since identified as journalist Moira Donegan, began receiving threats.
Some of the more serious accusations on the list were directed at Rumpus founder Stephen Elliott, who was accused of “physical sexual violence” by “multiple women,” according to the list. But rather than retreat to his hole—and, dare we even say, reflect on how his actions caused pain and harm to women—Elliot instead penned an essay last month griping about how the anonymous allegations hurt his career.
And then on Friday, Elliot took things a step further by filing a lawsuit seeking $1.5 million in damages against Donegan, accusing her of libel and claiming that the list caused him “emotional distress.”
Unfortunately for him, Google completely deletes Drive data after 15 days, and since the document was removed a year ago the evidence he would need to move forward with his suit is long gone. So instead, Elliott planned to subpoena Google for the spreadsheet metadata to flush out the so-called “Jane Does” who contributed anonymously to the list.
Well good luck with that, anyway, because Google ain’t play like that. Mashable reached out to the tech giant, who told the publication that it “will oppose any attempt by Mr. Elliott to obtain information about this document from us.”
And apparently, according to prior case law Elliott would actually have to prove the posts were libelous before Google’s hand could be forced to reveal the identity of any anonymous contributors to the list.
In any case, this all just adds credence to the theory that Elliot’s lawsuit is nothing more than an intimidation tactic to bully women into silence when it comes to their accusers. Which—again—good luck with that, because a GoFundMe for Donegan’s legal expenses has already raised $89,500 of its $500,000 goal in just one day.
Women are not taking this shit anymore, and, at least in this instance, Google is on their side.
Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.