Online Libel: What To Know

Posted on: 27 February 2018

The advent of the internet and social media has brought profound changes to the way people communicate, get information and are entertained. These positive effects are all well and good, until they end up causing harm. Anything posted on web sites, social media and more are subject to a particular form of personal injury known as libel. As a reminder, defamatory statements can consist of slander, which is the spoken offense and libel, which is the written form of the offense. Read on to learn more about online libel.

Where does libel appear?

If a person can add or create content, it has the potential to be libel. While the means to monitor and remove potentially defamatory content theoretically exists, the enforcement remains sketchy and inadequate in some cases. Here's a few common places where libel might be found on the internet:

1. Posts or comments on posts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram etc.

2. Blogs and responses or comments on blog postings

3. Comments on media sites, like online newspapers or other new sites.

4. Chat rooms or forums.

Who to sue

If you have been damaged by online content, you should realize that libel is a personal injury offense that carries the potential for compensatory damages. Who you should sue and where can get more complicated, however. Often, even finding out the true identity of the person defaming you is a challenge, and even if you do you may find that you cannot sue them in your own state. That is not to say that identifying the perpetrator and filing suit is impossible, but speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, since this type of case demands that the wrongdoer be located quickly.

What else to know about libel

Keep in mind that for it to be libel, it must be untrue. The statement must not only be untrue, but even if it's worded using the words "I think", it may still qualify as libel. While everyone is entitled to their opinions, saying something damaging and false about someone else is grounds for a libel suit. For example, if readers relied on your statement being true, even if you prefaced it with "I believe", your statement may have carried sufficient weight with the reader to qualify as libel.

If you have been the victim of defamatory statements, regardless of how they were delivered, speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.