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You can get sued for sharing mean posts on social media!

Earlier this month, an Australian couple was fined $15,000 for posting comments about their neighbour’s dogs. So be mindful of what you post on Facebook, Twitter or on any social media.

When posting on Facebook or Twitter, take the newspaper test – think of yourself as an editor of a newspaper or media outlet because you will be just as liable if you defame someone – Slater and Gordon.

Here are five things you should know about social media defamation from Slater and Gordon’s blog:

  1. In general terms, defamation occurs when a person intentionally spreads information about another person, group of people, or small company that damages their reputation, or can make others think less of them.
  2. Defamation is actionable regardless of the medium. A person can be defamed, for example, in print, through photos and on the internet.
  3. Defamation cases involving the internet and social media are relatively new, but the same principles apply.
  4. A person who did not create the defamatory material, but only shares it (for instance, by “retweeting” a tweet), can also be held found liable guilty of defamation.
  5. There are several defences to defamation, including that the statement was true, or that it was an expression of an honest opinion. Consequently, you may be liable for defamation if you spread information which constitutes a hurtful and untrue statement of fact about another person.

What if you are being accused?

The best thing do you if you are accused of defamation is to take down the offending post and offer an apology. If you’re lucky, the person will forgive you and you won’t end up in court.

Posting mean and defamation information on social media is just another form of bullying. Please before you hit the ‘post’ button, think about the consequences on either side.

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Featured image by Michael Beckwith.

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