With the rise of technology and transparency via social media platforms, Americans have found a new type of “bullying”. Cyber bullying is a major concern in the United States – and the issue continues to get worse with more people entering the internet every day. Specifically with social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram, a new term known as defamation has risen throughout the internet world.
Defamation has been in existence for many decades (even prior to the Internet), and is defined as the action of damaging the good reputation of someone through slander or falsified information. Internet defamation is much easier than traditional slander because the culprit can sit behind four walls and act without repercussion. In addition, other enablers can roam free and spread falsified information like wildfire. The actions of a few, given the transparency of private information, can substantially ruin another person’s image and morale.
So how do you know if defamation is occurring on social media, and what are some examples of defamation in recent years? Well, below are just a few examples that may help you better understand if you’ve been defamed in any way and what your rights are in the court of law.
How Do You Know You’ve Been a Victim?
Proven Documentation – Whether you believe you’ve been violated or not under the defamation law, which tries to balance competing interests (destroying personal image versus freedom of speech), you need to provide information for proof of the attack. The law of defamation varies from state to state, but there is a foundation of accepted rules for law compliance. In order to prove defamation, you’ll need to provide your lawyer with published information via social media platforms. These findings must be false and injurious, as well as unprivileged. A great example is the HIPPA law, which prohibits the involuntary distribution of patient medical information – defamation would occur if the culprit was documented teasing the victim about various health issues associated with them. In addition, always remember that, in the court of law, libel is more harmful than slander because libel is permanently embedded in the virtual world, whereas people forget spoken words or misinterpret their meaning from inception.
Are you a Celebrity? – When it comes to defamation, whether you’ve been defamed or not isn’t a matter of right and wrong, unfortunately. More so, it is a matter of what you can prove. For an ordinary person, you must prove libel (written slander) by convincing the courts of falsified information, harm caused, and lack of adequate research prior to the statements. In addition, if you are a celebrity, you must prove that the culprit had pure intentions to do harm. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to prove because people talk and information could come from anywhere – sometimes it is difficult to put the blame on one person. One great example of proving defamation is in a clear-cut case of protective information that puts the victim at severe risk. More specifically, if an ex-CIA agent is falsely exposed on the internet, they may be in danger of various groups who may want revenge against him or her.
Actual Malice –What truly constitutes defamation? Actual malice means that the culprit acted deliberately with the intention of harm to the victim without acknowledging reasonable intelligence for facts. There was a landmark case in 1964 called New York Times v Sullivan that laid the foundation for defamation in the media. The case involved a newspaper article stating unflattering things about a certain public figure, ultimately leading to a victory for the politician because the article included actual malice.
If you feel that your rights have been violated through social media platforms or defamation law is in effect, be sure to call a reputable personal injury law group in your area that specializes in the internet sector. Questions you should ask during your free consultation should include the facts of the postings, times of the attacks, and username accounts involved in the event.
The writer of this article, Matthew Hall, is a legal analyst who writes on the side to help people understand the many tricks of the legal trade. If you’ve been harmed as a result of things said on social media, he highly recommends an attorney like David R. Heil to help you get the compenstaion you deserve. You can learn more about Matthew on Google+.