In a bold move that highlights the ongoing battle between public figures and online harassment, K-pop sensations NewJeans are taking legal steps to unmask an anonymous YouTuber accused of spreading “false and defamatory videos.”

The action underscores the seriousness with which defamation is treated in South Korea and points to the potential global reach of the country’s legal system in the digital age.

NewJeans, a rising star in K-pop music, filed an ex parte application in a US. federal court at the end of March, seeking to compel Google to disclose the identity of a user who has allegedly posted numerous “false and derogatory videos” about the band on YouTube.

The anonymous user, operating under the handle @Middle7, is said to have uploaded as many as 33 videos that have collectively garnered over 13.8 million views, according to court documents obtained by Rolling Stone.

The user’s content has not only attracted a significant audience, with the @Middle7 account boasting around 12,700 subscribers, but it has also crossed the line into what NewJeans and their legal team consider defamatory territory. The videos in question reportedly involve “name-calling or mocking behaviour” directed at the band members, actions that are potentially punishable under South Korean law.

The situation with NewJeans highlights the complexities that arise when international artists encounter defamation on global platforms like YouTube.

At the time of writing, NewJeans’ US lawyer and representatives for Google have yet to comment on the case. NewJeans’ label/management company Ador, however, told The New York Times, “We regularly take legal action for violations of artists’ rights.”

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A quick look through the official Ador Twitter account reveals several statements from the past couple of years regarding similar legal proceedings and privacy protections for members.

The current legal move by NewJeans serves as a reminder to online commentators that their actions can have real-world consequences, and anonymity may not be as protective as they assume. As digital platforms continue to connect the world, the laws of one country can have far-reaching implications, potentially affecting users worldwide.

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