Defamation – use social media carefully

Like many of you we, at MTB, are regular users of all types of social media. Social media is a fun pastime for most of us but have you ever seriously thought about the contents of your tweet or your facebook post before you have posted it online? For many of us we tweet or post as a reaction to something that has just happened and sometimes the emotions which you are feeling at that time can lead to a post which may get you in trouble.

Many do not understand the difference between the 2 types of defamation – libel and slander. Put simply libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is a spoken or oral defamatory statement.

The standard of proof for defamation is twofold:

  • You must prove that the statement made was false; and
  • You must prove that the statement made caused harm to your reputation.

Last year Katie Hopkins was sued for libel after a twitter spat with writer and food blogger Jack Monroe. Mrs Monroe’s lawyers argued that Mrs Hopkins’ tweet insinuated that Mrs Monroe condoned vandalism on a war memorial and that this caused damage to her reputation. Whilst it is more likely for ‘famous’ people to be sued for defamation, given the number of followers they have which, in turn, increases the numbers who will view their tweet or post, it is something we all must be wary of.

Our advice is to enjoy social media but to take extra care about what you post online, especially about other people. A compulsive action in the heat of the moment could expose you to a potential libel action.

If you think that you have fallen victim to libel or slander, or you have been accused of either, please contact our defamation lawyers immediately on 02890 329801.