Watch what you post on Social Media
If you have a Netflix subscription, chances are you’ve probably either watched or heard about ‘The Social Dilemma’. The popular Netflix Documentary highlights the problems with Social Media, focusing on how social media companies are manipulating users, encouraging addictive behaviour and harvesting personal data – all in the name of money making.
One thing which the documentary didn’t focus on however was defamation and how what you post on Social Media can come back to bite you, in a big way! Gone are the days when defamation was a case against Newspapers and Magazines – now, with the rise of Social Media, ordinary individuals are publishers in the same way a newspaper or magazine was previously and face the same legal consequences such as finding themselves defendants in a defamation claim.
Here’s what you need to know about defamation:
- Defamation is when a person spreads information about a person, or group of persons, that lowers the person’s reputation in the eyes of reasonable members of the community, or causes the person to be ridiculed, avoided or despised by members of the general public.
- Defamatory statements can include social media comments, social media posts and even online reviews.
- If someone did not create the material, but still shared the information they can still be held liable for defamation.
How to defend defamation?
Cases of defamation can be defended in a variety of ways – the most common being if the statement was true, was an expression of an honest opinion or was a fair report of a proceedings of public concern.
Some interesting cases of social media defamation
Queensland woman awarded $10,000 following ex-husband’s attack on Facebook
In 2014, Shane Ulyatt (Criminal Lawyer at Greenhalgh Pickard) ran a successful Facebook defamation case to final hearing in Bowen. We represented the plaintiff June Kelly who suffered Facebook defamation from her ex-husband. By the ordinary and natural meaning of the words used in his defamatory statements was she was a person that ‘commits criminal offences’. Her ex-husband was unsuccessful in his defence, leaving him to pay our client $10,000 in reputational damage.
How a bad Google review ended with a $750,000 payout
Adelaide lawyer, Gordon Cheng, received a $750,000 payout after a woman left him a bad Google review. The bad review, made by Isabel Lok (who Cheng states was never a client of his), had such a detrimental effect on Cheng’s business, that he lost around 80% of his clients and suffered significant distress, anxiety and financial hardship.
What can I do if I am defamed or being sued for Defamation?
It is always important to be aware that what you post on social media can have costly consequences.
If you believe that you have been defamed or if you have been accused of defamation, then you should seek immediate legal advice.