Identifying Defamation Online
Sometimes people argue that a statement that is expressed as an opinion is not defamation. This is technically true, since defamation applies only to statements of fact. In some situations, however, a comment that may be phrased as a statement of opinion may be reasonably interpreted as a statement of fact. Just saying “I think” before making the defamatory comment does not necessarily shield the commenter from liability. Before you write something negative online, you should make sure that you understand the facts. You should not give the impression of knowing facts that you do not actually know but are merely inferring.SCHEDULE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION
Not every negative comment is equally likely to result in a claim. You should be especially wary of making comments about a person’s private life or about their work. For example, a defamation claim is more likely when a comment attributes someone’s job loss to sexually harassing a coworker, or when a comment discusses a suspicion that domestic violence played a role in someone’s divorce. On the other hand, you are unlikely to be sued if you post a negative comment about someone’s clothes or hairstyle in an Instagram post. This is because this statement is subjective, and it likely will have no impact on the person’s reputation. If a situation seems borderline, it makes sense to refrain from commenting, since the risk is high and the reward is relatively low.