Internet Defamation

Internet users can access information and communicate with each other giving them a false sense of freedom in their communications. Moreover Internet has complete accessibility distinguishing it from traditional print or broadcast media.

Defamation refers to a legal claim involving injury to one’s reputation is any false, intentional, and unprivileged statement of fact, either written (libel) or spoken (slander) that harms someone’s reputation. It has many forms including novels, paintings, or songs among others. Cyber defamation is a slander conducted through the Internet. It’s another form to state or spread defamatory comments and it is against the law. In order to be defamatory, the statement must have been published, have caused injury, and have been false and unprivileged.

The main issue of a defamation claim is falsity. If the statement harm another’s reputation but is true, it will not create liability for defamation.

Internet defamatory libel could be made online (public comments on media websites, blogs, and chat rooms) or through social medias (Facebook, Twitter, and so on). Internet gives any anonymous person an opportunity to express his/her opinion like statement, article, or news item across the world in an instant. Posting statements or pictures online to harm a person’s reputation may be against internet law. Websites are controlled by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or, sometimes, by the company’s information technology department.

Moreover the U.S. Constitution sets some limits on what States can do in the context of free speech. Defamation law has differences from State to State, but there are normally some common accepted standards. Penalties for Cyber defamation vary from country to country, and in the U.S., from State to State. The Government can’t imprison someone for making a defamatory statement, unless it is also a criminal immigration matter. On the other side, under some special circumstances, defamation can be treated as a criminal matter.  In the U.S., about 75% of defamation lawsuits are filed in State courts and the remaining 25% in Federal Courts. At times criminal libel laws are old and infrequently prosecuted.

Statements are defined defamation if were made with malice, that is knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether or not it was false. Generally, “public people” (such as celebrities and movie stars) have less protection from defamatory statements and have a higher threshold in proving someone committed defamation. Some statements are protected by absolute privileges, a complete defense to a defamation claim (for example statements made by witnesses in judicial proceedings).

If a person is acting with malice or out of spite, it may be necessary to file a report with the police depending on local law. If you have been defamed online, you should contact a qualified attorney to discuss your legal options and the best course of action.