Street Law will be publishing a series of blogs, reflecting the interests of its team members in their chosen subject. The fourth is on social media and defamation and is written by Saleena Sharma, Street Law Legal Researcher.
There is no doubt social media has taken over our everyday life, however many do not realize the posts we make may have severe legal implications. Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter have become catalysts for defamation claims as many individuals are posting either inaccurate or vicious in character statements of others.
The rise in the number of defamation claims should not be a surprise for many if we consider the negative effects words can have one person’s life. Taking the example of one of the most recent cases that involved one of our most favorited actors, Johnny Depp and the allegations against him for being a ‘wife beater.’ Mr Depp lost his libel case against the Sun newspaper for allegedly releasing false information of him assaulting his ex-wife, Amber Heard. This case led to the Hollywood’s best-paid actor to being removed from the new Fantastic Beast movie and entailed the ending of his career.
The essence of establishing liability under defamation comes down to three factors: there was a defamatory statement; referred to the claimant and it was published. Although it comes down to case-to-cases basis if you are able to bring a successful claim forward, nevertheless it should be something we should be wary about.
While social media sites provide forums to post your views to the world at large, your ability to use those forums comes with the responsibility to make sure you do not defame innocent parties. Regardless if you have a large following or not, any statement you post that can be bring down one’s reputation will be enough to bring a claim forward.
Do you know anyone that has faced defamation on social media?