Avoiding Defamation on Social Media – Important!

December 22, 2016

What is Defamation?

Defamation is a statement that is communicated to another that expressly or by implication injures the reputation of another or causes others to not associate with that person or their business interests.

While each state’s laws vary, the Florida Supreme Court has determined that the basic elements of a defamation suit in Florida are as follows:

(1) publication; (2) falsity; (3) actor must act with knowledge or reckless disregard as to the falsity on a matter concerning a public official, or at least negligently on a matter concerning a private person; (4) actual damages; and (5) statement must be defamatory.

Tips to Avoid being Sued:

  1. Don’t make an angry, emotional, OR drunken post

Ever said anything, and as soon as you did, wished you could hit recall, and delete?  If your skin is boiling and you feel that you just have to give them a piece of your mind, it’s probably a good idea to “pause” and wait until you have collected yourself emotionally.

  1. Think Before you Tweet!

Don’t be a twit, before you tweet, check in, or post, read what you’ve written.  Consider writing your thoughts first, leaving them on the computer, sleeping on it, and waking up with a clear head before you send that defamatory comment to the World Wide Web!

  1. Check Your Facts

Just because you say it’s so, doesn’t make it so.  If you’re not quoting a reliable source or if you don’t have first-hand knowledge about what you’re putting on social media, you may want to steer clear.  Make sure you have the facts to support your claim.

The law generally protects opinions, however, if a reasonable person would view that opinion as a fact, it will be considered a statement of fact and potentially subject to a claim of defamation.  If you find yourself facing a claim for defamation as a result of a Twitter® war, Facebook® post, or otherwise tangled in the World Wide Web, call LORE and set up a consultation with one our knowledgeable attorney’s.

Darrin Johnson is an associate with the Law Office of Robert Eckard & Associates. Darrin’s practice areas include criminal defense and business litigation.

The Law Office of Robert Eckard & Associates (LORE) has not been retained for any matter by you until such time as a duly executed retainer is signed by you and an authorized agent of LORE and any retainer deposit paid and returned to us.  Nothing contained herein is intended to create an attorney client relationship or be considered legal advice, as such, no conflict of interest shall be presumed in the event LORE is later retained by an adverse party.  See Rule 4-1.18 et. al., 2006 Florida Supreme Court.

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