“Are We Dating the Same Guy” groups on Facebook are everywhere. If you’re single and dating in 2024, chances are, you or someone you know is a group member. The groups, which started in New York City in 2022, serve as a platform for women to share their dating experiences with specific men and warn each other about harrowing accounts including, you guessed it, if they are dating the same guy. The popularity of the groups has expanded rapidly, encompassing more than 150 major regions and cities in the United States.
Women in the groups share screenshots of men’s dating profiles from dating apps like Bumble or Hinge, requesting that other women share their dating experiences. Group members then share information about the men, which can include personal experiences, the experiences of others, screenshots of conversations, and even the sharing of public information like news articles and criminal records. Many posts serve as warning, recounting experiences of cheating, love triangles, coercion, assault, racism, and abuse.
The purpose of these Facebook groups is to provide women with a private platform to collectively enhance their safety by identifying potential dangers. For many women, having a supportive community to share their experiences is significantly impactful. But be warned, a “private” Facebook group is not “private” in the eyes of the law, and women can be sued for things they post in these groups.
Just last week, a man sued 27 named women and a group of women who posted anonymously as “Jane Does” after he was posted in the “Are We Dating the Same Guy” Chicago subgroup. This is not the first time a man has sued the women posting about him in a subgroup.
Do you want to minimize the chances that you will be sued for something you post in an “Are We Dating the Same Guy” group? Consider the following tips before posting.
What Women Need to Know Before Posting a Man in an “Are We Dating the Same Guy” Group
1.) Your Posts May Give Rise to Legal Claims
All women publishing in “Are We Dating the Same Guy” Facebook groups should keep in mind that all internet publications have the potential to give rise to legal claims. Men posted in “Are We Dating the Same Guy” groups often have legal claims against the posters for defamation, harassment, privacy torts, among other claims. Women posting about men they date should stick to verifiable facts, and consider the following legal claims that can be brought against women who go too far in describing their dates:
In the United States, the First Amendment protects a person’s right to free speech. But the right to free speech is not absolute. While specifics vary from state to state, defamation generally occurs when a person publishes a false statement of fact about another person that injures the subject’s reputation.
While posting about a true dating experience likely does not give rise to a claim of defamation, women in “Are We Dating the Same Guy Groups” may take statements too far. Exaggerating or fabricating an experience likely takes speech outside the scope of the first amendment and into the realm of defamation.
Although it’s typical for group moderators to approve statements prior to their publication, women should exercise caution and not rely on a moderator’s judgment as a false sense of security. Moderators lack firsthand knowledge of the facts of each woman’s unique situation and likely are not well-versed in the relevant legal principles needed to safeguard the publisher. Ultimately, you are responsible for what you publish.
Online Harassment and Cyberbullying
Generally, harassment occurs when an individual is targeted by another person with repeated and distressing course of conduct that threatens the subject’s mental health or safety. Telecommunications harassment or cyberbullying is a more specific form of harassment that occurs on the internet. While one post might not be considered harassment, that one post coupled with phone calls and texts might be.
There are various legal remedies available through state and federal laws to protect people from conduct that constitutes harassment or cyberbullying. Know that if your conduct falls into the category of harassment, the subject of your posting may have criminal and civil options.
Invasion of Privacy
Content posted to an “Are We Dating the Same Guy” group can give rise to legal claims under various privacy laws, including invasion of privacy. Invasion of privacy allows a targeted party to bring a lawsuit against individuals who unlawfully intrude on his/her seclusion, publicly disclose private facts, portray him/her in a false light, or misappropriation his/her name and likeness. Women should keep in mind that even true statements can be actionable if they constitute an intrusion into that man’s private affairs.
Tortious Interference with a Prospective Advantage/ Contract
Tortious interference occurs when a person improperly induces a breach of contract between the target and a third party. A man posted in “Are We Dating the Same Guy” group may have tortious interference claims against a woman who posts about him in these groups if that woman subsequently provides the post to the man’s employer calling for his termination and he is fired as a result of that post.
Moderators of “Are We Dating the Same Guy” groups frequently have group rules that prohibit women from posting a man’s employer, and for good reason. If a man is fired for the post you made about him, you are more likely to be sued. But don’t rely on moderators to protect you from this risk in their screening.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Conduct that is seen to be so extreme or outrageous that it results in the emotional distress of another person gives rise to the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Posters should keep in mind that the things posted to a Facebook group can give rise to claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
2.) Deleting a Post Does Not Negate Legal Claims
If you posted a statement in an “Are We Dating the Same Guy” group that gives rise to legal claims, deleting it does not prevent the subject of the post from suing you. Deleting a post can, however, show a court that you attempted to mitigate damages if you do get sued.
3.) There is No Such Thing an Anonymous Facebook Post
The internet is forever. Anyone who assumes that they can maintain their anonymity on the internet does so at their own peril. “Are We Dating the Same Guy” groups provide the option for women to post anonymously, stating that they will never reveal a users’ identity. But the reality is, courts frequently order moderators and social media platforms, like Meta, to hand over identifying information of platform users. Facebook keeps information on every one of its users. This includes a user’s name, phone number, and IP addresses, among other identifying information.
Think you’re technically savvy and can evade detection? Think again. Even sophisticated threat actors can be unmasked. To learn more about how anonymous individuals on the internet are unmasked, check out our article on John Doe lawsuits.
4.) Assume Any Man you Post Will See What you Wrote
“Are We Dating the Same Guy” group moderators are highly selective in who they admit as group members. Additionally, group rules typically prohibit members from taking screenshots. But the reality is, careful screening and group rules do not prevent group members from taking screenshot of posts and sharing them with the subjects. If you write something about someone, you should assume that it will get back to them. And if you have fears for your physical safety, it’s advisable to carefully consider potential repercussions before making any posts.
Contact an Internet Defamation and Content Removal Attorney
If you have questions about posts made in an “Are We Dating the Same Guy” group and you want to discuss your legal options reach out to internet defamation and content removal attorney Ali Arko (ALA@kjk.com; 216.716.5642).