Understand The Landscape Of Defamation On Social Media
With an escalation of online commentary, social networks, and content aggregation sites, the risk of negative statements or reviews getting exposed in front of wide audience has immensely amplified.
For example, on Twitter a negative episode related to a product usage will receive dozens of ‘tweets’. Instagram, Reditt, Yelp, Facebook, etc, are popular social sites, which are used by thousands and millions.
Today, social media has made it possible to share false information more easily. It has become a unique breeding ground for potentially slanderous statements.
People feel they can post anything online. In addition, there are interesting websites, where people accidentally or intentionally post or comment defamatory statements.
Few common locations include –
- Letters to local newspaper editors
- Comments on blogs
- Media websites
- Social network
- List-servers or chat rooms
Some websites screen all the posts for illegal or inflammatory content, but defamatory content cannot be identified by their screening system, so these end up online.
Defamatory elements are not regulated, so it is necessary that sharers, consumers and potential victims understand online defamation landscape on social media.
Who to sue?
Victims suffering from online defamation often pursue the social media website that hosts the damaging material or their ISP. It is because these companies can afford to reimburse the damage demand of the plaintiff or victim. However, according to defamation removal law pursing website or ISP for defamation claim is not a legal option. The plaintiff has to sue the entity or person, who is responsible for making the defamatory statement.
The victim needs to hire an attorney, who will first perform a jurisdictional analysis to determine an appropriate state court to file the defamatory lawsuit. Make sure you consult a reliable defamation lawyer with experience. Defamation cases are fact-specific, so attorney like Aaron Minc will know the kinds of facts to nurture to establish your case.
What represents online defamation?
Elements considered in a defamation statement –
In general, defamation is defined as fake statement published to harm the plaintiff’s reputation. Online post, even on vague website gets seen by few people, so this satisfies publication prerequisite.
Online defamation claim cannot be effective, if the defamatory statement is true. For example, a client posts that your product infected by fungi. You can take legal action against them for defamation but will need to prove that there was no fungus and the defamer’s statement is untrue.
The defamer will argue that the fungus claim was an opinion. Now, opinions are legally protected, so the plaintiff cannot sue for defamation. The court will deem this statement to be an opinion or fact, after a thorough study.
Modified videos and photos go viral on social media and can scandalize a business or person’s reputation. The less clear and ridiculous alterations to the photo will increase the chances of judge deeming it to be defamatory material.
In submitting comments or posts on social media or online, it is wise to exercise utmost care. Avoid gray area statements, which could be interpreted as defamation.