Defamation Is a False Statement That Is Harmful to Someone’s Reputation
Social media has become a pervasive aspect of everyday life. It has made the dissemination of information incredibly simple and given an easily amplified mouthpiece to anybody willing to make an account on any of a variety of websites. From Facebook to Twitter, to Youtube, and beyond, anyone can make a statement that can be liked, shared, and commented on.
One of the most substantial issues with respect to free speech on social media is the matter of defamation.
Speakers should be aware of when their statements cross into defamation, and listeners should be aware of their rights when they are defamed by someone else.
One common example of defamation is an individual using their social media account to falsely accuse another of committing a crime. Assume, for the sake of argument, that this type of accusation is made against you. What should you, as the subject of internet defamation, do when you encounter such a statement?
First, you should not engage with the speaker. Getting into an argument over the internet rarely, if ever, resolves anything, and may leave you in a worse position than if you never responded in the first place.
Second, take a screenshot or otherwise save the defamatory statement so that you have evidence. If you fail to do this and the statement is later deleted, you may lack the necessary evidence to support a claim for defamation.
Third, check if there is a report feature on the website. Many social media websites have a button that you can click or a form that you can fill out to report defamatory statements. Lastly, if you intend to pursue your legal options with respect to a claim for defamation, it is best to contact an attorney to assist you.
Your next question may be, “How do I, as a speaker or poster, avoid defaming someone over social media?” The answer to this is very simple: tell the truth. Defamation only encompasses false statements, therefore true statements cannot be defamatory. In addition, avoiding inflammatory rhetoric is another way to prevent yourself from committing defamation.
Defamation is a statement that tends to lower the opinion of an individual in the eyes of others. If you don’t make statements that insult, demean, or otherwise unfairly attack someone’s character, then you will avoid potentially defamatory statements altogether.