Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SLANDER and LIBEL Facebook

Many people get upset when they think of SLANDER and LIBEL on Facebook. However, to understand if it is either SLANDER or LIBEL pertaining to the posting on Facebook, you must know what each term means.


SLANDER and LIBEL are both expressions of the tort defamation.


Defamation is where the plaintiff’s reputation is negatively affected (intentionally or negligently) that is published(spoken/written) to a third party who understood the defamatory statement which causes damage to the plaintiff’ reputation.


**Facebook Example:

“Bob (intentionally/negligently) wrote on Susan’s wall that the her son’s high school teacher was having a private affair with one of her son’s high school friend. (whether it being true or not, #1- it is negatively affecting someone, #2 it is in written format, #3 Susan is a 3rd person who can understand the meaning of affair - as well as it is published for other viewers to understand, #4 it will cause damage not only to the teacher, but to the student as well (damage to both people involved).”


Bob would have committed defamation. - NOW which type of defamation:


SLANDER:

is spoken/oral defamation. The plaintiff must prove that he/she suffered a pecuniary loss. (Loss of family/friends, hurt feelings, embarrassment will not suffice).


However, there are 4 main categories in which a person can receive damages for SLANDER without having to prove he/she suffered a pecuniary loss:


  1. when its regarding business or profession
  2. when it is regarding loathsome disease
  3. imputing unchastity of a woman
  4. crimes of moral turpitude


**Although, there is an issue where or not the person who was defamed was a matter of public concern. If they are a matter of public concern (public official/public figures/matter is public concern) then the 1st amendment issue will come into play as the law is that they have assumed this risk.



**Facebook example:

“Britney Spears is a bad mother and drives drunk.”


As Britney Spears is a public figure (or you could argue this is a matter or public concern) Britney Spears must prove falsity of this statement.


Public official and public figures normally have attorneys to represent them for any legal matter.


(SLANDER would not be considered defamation on Facebook, unless in a video format, and is defamed but oral communication.. otherwise look to LIBEL)



LIBEL:

is a defamatory statement that is made in writing or a permanent form.


There is Libel (Per Se) and Libel (Per Quod).


Libel (Per Se) is defamation on its face, meaning it is clear and concise and general damage are awarded without proof.


Libel (Per Quod) is defamation that is unclear and needs to be proved in order to obtain damages.


**Facebook example:

When writing a defamatory statement: post on a wall, or commenting on a photo, commenting on a status, sending a message - these are all WRITTEN types of documentation and would therefore be considered Libel.


Therefore, we should always remember to make sure we think before we type and make sure to think before we talk in order to avoid these situations.


Should you have any other further questions regarding this matter, you may want to contact your nearest Civil Rights/Torts/Personal Injury Attorney.