Libel Law: Can you face legal liability for your posts on social media?

posts on social mediaAre you sure you want to write that? In this digital world of communication you have to be aware of what you say – or actually-what you are writing. The law of libel, slander, and defamation applies to the world of social media just like it has applied for hundreds of years prior to social media. And some people who post slanderous, defamatory posts about others on social media are facing some hefty monetary sums for those posts.

Recently, in North Carolina a woman learned this the hard way. When she posted about a former co-worker on Facebook – without even mentioning the person’s name – she was sued for libel. According to media covering the case, there was a $500,000.00 consent judgment entered against the woman who posted the alleged defamatory comments in the case.

In 2015, an Ohio woman was taken to court for defamation after writing about her ex-boyfriend on her Facebook page stating that he was “hooked on porn and watches dirty movies with teenage girls”, although neither was true.

An ex-husband was charged with violating a restraining order for his inappropriate posts on social media as they fell under causing his estranged wife mental abuse, harassment, and annoyance and making her feel afraid.

In short, when you make false defamatory statement about another person on social media that causes harms and damage to one’s reputation, you could be opening yourself up to a civil suit for those libelous statements. How would you like a $500,000.00 judgment against you?

Defamatory Posts and monetary awards

What about posts that are untrue and harm the reputation of someone else? There’s potential civil liability for those type posts. Ultimately, a jury would determine how harmed was the person being defamed, determined on a case-by case basis. Another wrinkle is whether a person’s homeowner’s insurance would cover damages caused by defamatory statements. So think before you post. By taking one extra second to think about what you are posting, you could be saving yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.