Removing Defamation from Facebook and Twitter: Defamation Lawyer Insights

October 27th, 2012

Defamation on Facebook and Twitter: 

Defamation on Facebook and Twitter is becoming more and more common every single day because it’s so easy to post a comment or an item onto your Facebook wall or onto your Twitter account. And because emotions run high sometimes, that spontaneous compulsion in you to say something really mean about someone else or to make something up about someone else can be very real, and it can result in big legal problems under defamation of character law.


Welcome to Defamation Law Radio. Internet defamation of character is as easy to perpetuate as a blog post, Facebook update, rating submission, or a forum comment.  Your online reputation is measured by the websites return as Google search results.  Do you know what people are saying and writing about you?

Defamation on Facebook and Twitter is becoming more and more common every single day because it’s so easy to post a comment or an item onto your Facebook wall or onto your Twitter account. And because emotions run high sometimes, that spontaneous compulsion in you to say something really mean about someone else or to make something up about someone else can be very real, and it can result in big legal problems under defamation of character law.

Now, because it’s written defamation, then it’s typically going to be libel as opposed to slander. Libel on the Internet is when someone actually writes something that is classified as defamatory under defamation law. My name is defamation attorney Enrico Schaefer. My law firm specializes in Internet and online defamation of character cases. Today we’re talking a little bit about Facebook defamation and Twitter defamation.

The first thing that you need to know if you have been accused of defamation on Facebook or whether or not you believe you are a victim of defamation on Facebook or Twitter is that these types of issues tend to be much easier to resolve than when the defamation goes up on a website like Rip Off Reports, Yelp, Google Places, or some of the other ratings websites that are out there like Avvo, etc.

So, the good news is that for both the person who believes they’re the victim of defamation of character and for the person who posted the statement, which allegedly is a false statement of fact, which is subjecting you to a threat letter for defamation, is that these posts can be removed. At least as long as they’re not shared onto someone else’s wall already. So, unlike many situations that an Internet lawyer will get involved in, this was one that has a remedy that can be typically executed by both parties to the defamation.

So here’s the way it would typically work. Let’s say I’m an attorney representing the person who believes they’re a victim of defamation of character as a result of someone else posting something on Facebook, on their wall, which is a statement of fact which diminishes their reputation and which is factually untrue. What I’m going to do is I’m going to analyze the post. Make sure that I can find a false statement of fact. Call out the opinions that might be in there that are first amendment protected, and see if there’s a false statement of fact in the post that can be proven as true or false.

Assuming that I, as the plaintiff’s attorney, get through that hurdle, the next thing I’m going to do is take a look at whether or not a threat letter is appropriate to the person, the account holder on Facebook or Twitter who actually posted that defamatory statement. I might contact them through Facebook inbox, or I might contact them as a result of other information I’m able to pull off of the Internet about who they are, where they’re located, and who they work for.

I’m typically going to try and send that defamation of character threat letter in as many different directions as I can to that person. If I am representing the person who’s been accused of defamation of character on Facebook or Twitter, what I’m going to do is the same thing. I’m going to see if the statement qualifies as opinion or whether or not there’s potential liability for defamation of character as a result of what is said there.

In either instance, the goal is to potentially try and resolve the defamation issue, and in that instance, if I’m representing the plaintiff, we’re going to demand that the post be removed. We might demand a retraction. We might demand any number of different things to go along with that.

If I believe that there’s liability and I’m representing the defendant in a defamation of character on the Internet issue, such as on Facebook or Twitter, then what I’m going to do is I’m going to advise the client to potentially remove the post, assuming that we can get a release of liability from the person who’s making the accusation of Facebook libel.

So those are the ways that we’re going to typically handle these issues. Twitter is a little bit more challenging because of how easy it is for people to share tweets. So assuming that I can remove the tweet from my own account page, I may not be able to remove the tweet from other people’s account page. That might require some additional work, asking people to remove the post, etc.

The good news is that in many instances there’s not a lot of sharing going on, on Twitter. It’s the unusual tweet that actually results in someone reposting a tweet. So, these things can spread like viruses if in fact they’re popular, the person who’s being defamed is a famous person or someone who is known within an industry.

My name is defamation of character attorney Enrico Schaefer. Today we were talking a little bit about Internet defamation on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. Hope you learned something and we’ll see you next time.

You’ve been listening to Defamation Law Radio, where defamation of character, slander, and libel are always the topic of the day.  Whether you are a defamation attorney or a client, we are the number one resource for all your defamation questions.

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