Defamation by social media has become a fertile area for litigants and courts. The medium continues to evolve and expand as more people have access to the internet. Furthermore, online publications have an unlimited, undefined audience. The potential harm to the victim is therefore much lower than that suffered in print publications. Therefore, the plaintiff must prove that the publication was intended to inflict substantial harm. While the plaintiff will not always be successful in proving libel, the Supreme Court has provided some guidance in social media defamation cases.
A claim for social media defamation can be made by the victim or the third party who posted the defamatory statement. The defamatory statement may be true or half-true, but it is still defamatory. The person may be entitled to compensation for the harm caused by the defamatory statement. For example, comments that suggest a person is a domestic abuser or a sexual harasser can be considered defamatory. To be valid, a person must have the intent to harm the victim and demonstrate negligence or actual malice.
In most cases, normal defamation law applies to social media posts, but it has some specific considerations. Because social media has made even the average internet user reach a wider audience, social media posts may expand beyond their intended audience. This has made social media defamatory statements particularly valuable as they are likely to spread to many other people, far beyond the original audience. As "viral" content has shown, the potential for a social media post to go viral is enormous.
If you've been the victim of social media defamation, it is vital to consult a qualified lawyer. A lawyer who specializes in internet defamation claims can give you a clear idea of what to expect. It is advisable to sue the person who posted the defamatory content, not the site or service. In many cases, this means filing a lawsuit against a public forum like Facebook or Twitter.
As with any other type of defamation case, proving damages is critical. Damages must be real, measurable, and documented. In social media defamation cases, these damages are easier to prove, as the comments are usually libelous. These comments could be about the business, a review, an accusation, or a personal attack. These statements are grounds for defamation, so it is imperative to have proof that the content was false.
While defamation cases are often filed against celebrities or prominent people, they can also affect ordinary people. For example, a business owner can sue a customer who posted a false photo of their business. This person can be sued for defamation if the post was made in bad faith. However, this method is not suited for everyone. In some cases, a plaintiff will win the case despite the fact that they were not aware that the statement was defamatory.