Is Increasing Rate Of Social Media Defamation Cases Is An Alarming Sign?

Defamation is defined as an untrue statement that damages someone’s reputation. When a defamatory statement is made through social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram involving written posts it is known as social media defamation. Libel and slander are the two main types of defamation. When the statement is made verbally it is referred as slander and when it is in the form of written posts, it is known as libel. However, the terms libel and slander are no longer in use and fall under the term defamation.

In general, the internet and social media is a great place to communicate with people but there are some people who misuse this platform as they make defamatory statements against others. Since the sites are designed to encourage sharing of information without any form of verification, the defamatory contents reach a broad audience instantly. Incidents of social media defamation are tremendously on the rise and Australia is no exception. Consequently, social media defamation lawsuits are exponentially increasing which is an alarming sign. As per the analysis of Australian defamation case law, in Australia there were 609 defamation cases between 2013 and 2017.

How defamation can affect you?

The most negative impact that a defamatory statement can cause is harming one’s professional repute. For instance, if someone is a businessman and one of the client’s make a defamatory statement alleging that the said business has been dishonest; he would lose his clients. Similarly, a defamatory statement about an employee may raise doubts and consequently may lose employment. One who loses business or employment makes a financial loss. However, one can seek compensation with the help of Social media defamation lawyers for such loses. Sometimes victims of defamation also suffer from various health problems like depression, anxiety, insomnia and other physical conditions.

Things to do following defamation on social media

  • Defamatory statements on the internet spread very quickly, so it is very important to act fast.

  • One should take the help of an expert Social media defamation lawyer because it is a complicated area of law with tricky limitation periods and technical and legal issues. They advice if the victim can go for a lawsuit and the best way to proceed.

  • Determine who all are involved in spreading the defamatory statement such as the author, the internet service provider, the social networks and search engines.

  • It is very important to know how large are the audience who have seen the statement. If it is in the form of a private email, then few people would know about it or else if it is through social networks thousands will come to know.

  • One needs to preserve the evidence that the statement was published on the internet. One should take a screenshot and take a hard copy of the postings and search engine results.

  • A notice should be sent to all the parties that were involved and this is very effective in quickly removing the post.

  • Proceed with a defamation lawsuit as this is the only way out for a successful outcome although it can be uncertain, expensive and emotionally exhausting.

How a lawyer can help?

A lawyer reviews the case and recommends the options that are suitable. The options are as follows:

If you have been defamed: The lawyer drafts, prepares and serves a Concerns Notice to the offender. The objective of the Concerns Notice is to inform the offender about the matter and the way it is defamatory. The offender gets 28 days time to respond to the Concerns Notice. A defamation lawyers Perth advices a plaintiff, whether the offer should be accepted or rejected. The other person can respond by:

  • writing an apology

  • retract the defamatory material

  • publish a correction

  • Assures that such defamatory material will not be published in future

  • Pay compensation

In case you are not convinced and would like to go for court proceedings, the lawyer assists you. They also help you with the removal of the defamatory content and draft, prepare and send the letter of demand.

If you have been accused of defamation

When you get a Concerns Notice, you are given 28 days to respond. In your response you can make an offer to amend the defamatory content. You can make a written apology, withdraw the defamatory content, publish correction of the same, promise not to publish any defamatory content or pay compensation. In case the other party decides to take legal action, the best defamation lawyer will act on your part.

Establishing defamation

There are some generally accepted rules to prove defamation. When you feel that you have been “defamed” you need to explain that a statement was published which is false and injurious. The “statement” can be verbal, written, photographed or even a gesture. Since the written statement exists for a longer period of time as compared to a verbal statement it is considered more harmful than slander by most juries, courts and insurance companies.

  • Here the word “published” implies that a third party must have seen or heard the statement. Third party means someone other than the person who made the statement. In case of defamation on social media, the statement has to be made public through social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and many others.

  • A defamatory statement on social media has to be false otherwise it will not be considered as damaging one’s reputation and the victim will not be able to file a lawsuit.

  • Since the objective of a defamation lawsuit is to prevent any injuries to reputation, one must prove that the statement was injurious.

Persons who have the right to sue for defamation

A person who has been subjected to a defamatory publication can sue. But the Defamation Act restricts the rights of corporations to sue for defamation and only certain non-profit seeking corporations and corporations employing less than 10 employees have the right to sue. For the plaintiff, it is not necessary to be identified by name in the defamatory content. It is enough that someone reading the content understands that those words refer to the plaintiff.