Doxxed & defamed? One man’s fight against a dating group & the women who “know” him

Doxxed & defamed? One man’s fight against a dating group & the women who “know” him

Joining a Facebook group aimed at empowering women and safeguarding them from toxic relationships sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to be part of a supportive community focused on such noble goals? Well, you'd be surprised to know that one such group has been slapped with a lawsuit.

One such group actually exists and has surprisingly been slapped with a lawsuit. The plaintiff is a man (very shocking). But before we jump to conclusions about the entire male population, let's dig deeper into what sparked this legal showdown and ponder the question “Are men really the villains in this story?”

Digital sisterhood and the power of spotting red flags as a community

Online dating often feels like a seemingly endless parade of profiles promising love, laughter, or even just a decent chat. But for many women, the reality can be a bit rockier. Enter Are We Dating the Same Guy?, or AWDTSG, a Facebook group with over 200 chapters and a staggering 3.5 million members.

AWDTSG is essentially a space where women can "empower each other and keep each other safe from dangerous and/or toxic men" per its founder Paola Sanchez. Here, the hunt for love takes on a collaborative air. Members share red flags about potential dates or partners, fostering a sense of community and shared experience. Imagine swiping right with the knowledge that a whole squad of women has your back. Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?

Here’s how it works: You match with a charming fella on your favorite dating app, but something about him just Maybe his profile pics are suspiciously few, or his messages reek of inauthenticity. Before diving headfirst into a potential dating disaster, you head straight to your local AWDTSG group. There, you post a screenshot of his profile (with identifying information blurred out, of course) and ask the age-old question "Are we dating the same guy?"

Fellow members who may have crossed paths with this same charmer can chime in with their experiences, good or bad. Suddenly, you're armed with valuable intel that can help you potentially dodge a bullet.

The flip side: When sisterhood turns sour

While the concept of creating a safe haven for women online is undeniably appealing, such forums can also become breeding grounds for misinformation, manipulation, and outright defamation.

Imagine being an innocent guy in the online dating scene, only to find yourself unwittingly labeled a "bad date" in a forum with tens of thousands of members. Enforcing strict rules in such large online communities can be a challenge, and damaging claims — even those that are unsubstantiated — can take hold with alarming speed. These accusations can then leak out of the online world and potentially follow the accused into their personal and professional lives.

Case in point: Chicago man Nikko D'Ambrosio. Mr. D'Ambrosio is just your average Joe navigating the dating scene of the Windy City — that is until he gets wind of some not-so-flattering remarks about himself swirling around in cyberspace. His dating app escapades took a surprising turn when his photo landed in a virtual gossip fest in the Chicago-area AWDTSG.

Comments labeling him as "clingy" and accusations of ghosting flooded the forum. To top it all off, someone dropped a bombshell article about a completely unrelated assault case, insinuating Mr. D'Ambrosio's involvement. Now, Mr. D'Ambrosio is fighting back with a class-action lawsuit, claiming his reputation took a hit. His lawsuit claimed that thousands of men have likely been similarly unfairly dragged through the digital mud.

Mr. D’Ambrosio is seeking damages, claiming emotional distress, humiliation, and violation of privacy, to name a few. In addition, he wants a judge to officially say "hands off" to any future online exposés about his dating life.

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Red flags and gray areas

When used with good intentions, AWDTSG can be a valuable dating resource. Take, for instance, the common post prompt in the group: "Any red flags or tea?" This simple question has proven effective in exposing cheaters and other genuine bad actors in the dating world.

However, the line between a helpful heads-up and online shaming can get blurry fast. There have been plenty of cases where men accused of being "problematic" turned out to be victims of misconstrued information or plain old gossip.

The Nikko D'Ambrosio lawsuit is a prime example. Now, the legal battle raises important questions about online communities, free speech, and the often messy world of dating. Will this case establish a precedent, or will it simply serve as a cautionary tale for both daters and social media vigilantes?

The outcome of this case could have major implications for online speech and privacy. If you find yourself in a similar situation in Washington State, LaGrandeur & Williams LLP is here to help. Call our Renton law offices or leave us a message.