One of many things that makes America great is the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. We have a right to our opinions and share them on websites, Facebook, Twitter, and on other platforms available across the Internet. If you are being wrongfully accused of Internet defamation, you need a lawyer who specializes in Internet defamation legal matters and understands and has what it will take to defend your case.
In many ways, courts treat defamation on the Internet similar to off-line defamation, due to their overlap and similarities. However, because Internet defamation is by definition written rather than spoken, it is regarded as Internet libel. Libel is defamation that is written, rather than spoken. Internet defamation can occur through posting libelous statements on Yelp,Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook, a website forum, bulletin board post, business review, blog post, or other platform.
The First Amendment exists to protect our right to freedom of speech. Therefore, a written statement must be a false statement of fact, and at least negligently made to actually be considered libel.
In order for a comment, post or article to be considered Internet libel, it must meet the following requirements:
1. The first thing the plaintiff must prove is that the statement is a false statement of fact, rather than opinion. We are entitled to our opinions. A factual statement is something that can be proven true or false. Opinions are not actionable as defamation, and qualifiers such as “I think” or “I believe” may indicate opinions.
2. The false statement of fact must harm the plaintiff’s reputation. There are many false statements posted across the Internet that don’t cause harm to anyone’s reputation. In order to constitute libel, a statement must not only be false, but must harm someone’s reputation.
3. The statement must have been negligently made, at a minimum. The false statement must be made without adequate due diligence or research into its truthfulness.
4. If the person who is the subject of the false statement of fact is a celebrity or public official,the plaintiff must also prove malice. Malice is proven when the statement is posted with the intent to do harm or with reckless disregard of the truth.
This is a fact-specific inquiry. If you’re being sued for an allegedly defamatory statement, it’s important to consult a skilled libel lawyer who can review all the possible defenses for your situation.
Call The Law Office of Ryan T. Darby at (619) 858-4766 for a consultation to learn more about