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Man sues 27 women in an 'Are We Dating the Same Guy' Facebook group


Call it a modern-day battle of the sexes. A Chicago man is suing dozens of women over comments shared about him in a private Facebook group. Women across the country use these types of groups to vet potential suitors. However, the man behind the Chicago lawsuit claims it's more about defamation of character. Anna Savchenko from member station WBEZ reports.

ANNA SAVCHENKO, BYLINE: Over the last several years, Nikko D'Ambrosio used dating apps to meet single women in Chicago until he received an anonymous tip. His photo was posted in a private Facebook group called Are We Dating The Same Guy. Along with this photo, there was a flood of comments. One said, very clingy, very fast. Another said, he told me what I wanted to hear until I slept with him, and then he ghosted. One woman posted a link to an article about a man charged with sexually assaulting a woman he met on a dating app. That man isn't D'Ambrosio, but his class-action lawsuit argues the woman used the article to imply D'Ambrosio is the man in the mugshot. It also claims the comments were posted with the intent to harm D'Ambrosio's reputation and standing in the community and that thousands of men who remain unaware of attacks on their character have potentially been defamed by women who say they've been in a dating relationship with them, women who are members of a national network of these Facebook groups.

MARC TRENT: They're making malicious posts that are defamatory, that are destroying men's lives.

SAVCHENKO: That's D'Ambrosio's attorney, Marc Trent.

TRENT: One man called us, said he was put on administrative leave because of what a woman posted against him. They're being accused of having STDs.

SAVCHENKO: He claims all the information is false. The lawsuit targets nearly 30 women, many of whom are moderators of Are We Dating The Same Guy Chicago, and Facebook's parent company Meta, too, for allegedly boosting defamatory content to make more money. Meta didn't respond to a request for comments. Neither did the women. Some people don't think the groups are problematic. Michele McBride Simonelli is an attorney who specializes in internet defamation.

MICHELE MCBRIDE SIMONELLI: I think the service that it provides outweighs the danger that it may potentially provide to somebody that's on the group.

SAVCHENKO: That service being a virtual archive that women can use to find out more about whom they're dating. One of the first groups providing that service popped up in New York City two years ago.

MCBRIDE SIMONELLI: Women decided - you know what? - we needed a place to give people a heads-up, particularly in areas like New York with a large dating pool, that there might be some issues with safety or issues with, you know, people cheating on people.

SAVCHENKO: Now that group has more than 100,000 members, and similar ones have mushroomed across the U.S. Simonelli says the women who use these groups aren't doing anything wrong as long as what they're sharing is their opinion or the truth. But Northwestern University law professor Matthew Kugler says that's not always the case.

MATTHEW KUGLER: Some of the reports in these groups amount to accusing people of crimes, and knowingly, falsely accusing someone of a crime is defamation.

SAVCHENKO: So what about D'Ambrosio's lawsuit? Are the comments made by the women defamatory?

KUGLER: Much of what was being said about him in this group was, frankly, not that bad.

SAVCHENKO: He believes the case has gotten D'Ambrosio more publicity than the initial comments ever did. D'Ambrosio's attorney, Marc Trent, says that publicity has been worth it for his client.

TRENT: Nikko is a victim. There's a lot of victims, so we're looking at the big picture, the positive effect with helping a lot of victims that - men - male victims and otherwise that are involved with this.

SAVCHENKO: The lawsuit is asking for money damages and a jury trial. For NPR News, I'm Anna Savchenko in Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIG PUN SONG, "STILL NOT A PLAYER FT. FAT JOE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Anna Savchenko
[Copyright 2024 WGLT]