Topic: Defamation

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Expert Witnesses May (Still) Be Used in U.S. Litigation to Explain Basic Social Media Use

On March 8, 2017, federal Judge Sidney Fitzwater, of the North District of Texas, issued a memorandum opinion and order in Charalambopoulos v. Grammer, No. 3:14-CV-2424-D, 2017 WL 930819. The case had already been in litigation for years and involved allegations of domestic violence and defamation.  According to earlier opinions issued in Charalambopoulos, the parties … Continue reading

WhatsApp group administrators may be responsible for members’ content

In India, an administrator of a Whatsapp group has recently faced arrest, following the sharing of what is alleged to be a defamatory photo-shopped image of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.  South Africa has yet to test the liability of a group admin with regard to what is shared on their group.  However, given the rise … Continue reading

Germany considers € 50 million fines for social media sites failing to remove hate speech

The German Justice Ministry has introduced a draft law that would impose fines of up to €50 million on social media companies that fail to remove hate speech and other illegal content from their platforms quickly. The fines would be imposed whenever social media companies do not remove online threats, hate speech, or slanderous fake … Continue reading

Who is Fact Checking the Fact Checkers?

With the proliferation of so-called “fake news”, companies are starting to rely on third party organizations to perform a “fact checking” function in order to distinguish between legitimate news and fake news. The fake news epidemic gained traction in the recent US presidential election.  We have previously written about the fake news problem, as well … Continue reading

Risks of unlawful social media content: changes in UK defamation landscape and what you need to know

A carefully curated social media presence is a critical business requirement, but there are risks. One of these risks is unlawful content – be that unlawful content posted to your businesses’ own social media account (exposing the company to potential liability) or harmful content about your business (or its C-Suite or key personnel) posted on … Continue reading

The edit button: can the past be erased?

Social media users have a new demand for 2017 – they want the ability to edit their public messages. Spelling mistakes, missing words and misplaced pronouns can have embarrassing, unintended and sometimes dangerous consequences.  The ability to edit one’s message is an attractive feature.  This request has led some users on the social media platform … Continue reading

President Obama signs the “Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016”

On Thursday, December 15, 2016, President Obama signed into law H.R. 5111, now officially titled the “Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016.” The substantive provisions of the bill, which we discussed in a previous post, are virtually unchanged, but the law’s text provides further details regarding enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission and the states. … Continue reading

Fact Or Fiction: The Fake News Problem

In the few months leading up to the United States election, social media was flooded with articles with sensationalized titles and incendiary content. Many of these “news” stories were fake. They were written for the purpose of swaying public opinion or generating a profit from ad revenue and were often published by sham entities or … Continue reading

U.S. House takes steps to protect consumers’ rights to post negative reviews

We have all seen the reviews of products or services that disgruntled consumers post on review sites such as Yelp. Lately, however, some consumers have faced lawsuits for violating “gag orders,” or non-disparagement clauses, found in agreements between businesses and consumers. These clauses restrict consumers’ ability to publish any negative criticism about their experiences and … Continue reading

Liability for friends’ defamatory statements

Liability for third-party defamatory comments on one’s personal account, whether on Facebook or another internet-based platform, is an emerging legal issue in Canadian law. If a social media “friend” posts defamatory statements about another person on your profile, or other site, can you be personally liable to the defamed person? Do you have any obligation … Continue reading

Social media overload

The explosion of social media in the past decade has caused a major shift in the way we conduct our affairs. In particular, businesses have been required to adapt to new ways of communicating with their clients.  At a rate of thousands of social media applications surfacing each month, and new legal issues surrounding the … Continue reading

Social Media Stars and Defamation

This blog recently discussed regular people who have become internet sensations through the use of social media. Chiara Ferragni, for example, started a fashion blog in 2009. She is now a multimillionaire with approximately 5,000,000 Instagram followers.  Tay Zonday posted his song “Chocolate Rain” on YouTube in 2007, which led to numerous appearances on daytime … Continue reading

We’re back, with our top five social media stories of 2015

The Social Media Law Bulletin is back! The ongoing interest of our readers as well as the increasing impact of social media led us to re-launch the Social Media Law Bulletin. We will be bringing you coverage of one or two items approximately each week, but in the meantime, we thought we would give you … Continue reading

Legal blogs and protected speech

In Huon v. Breaking Media, LLC, the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held that federal law protects internet publishers from defamation claims based on content posted by commenters to online news stories (See Memorandum Opinion and Order, No. 1:11-cv-03054 (Dec. 4, 2014)). In Huon, the plaintiff sued the popular online legal blog … Continue reading

Blog posts, commercial speech and false advertising

In Goodman v. Does, plaintiff Todd Goodman alleged various defamation and federal unfair competition (Lanham Act) claims stemming from postings on the website localdirtags.com, a blog, which was run by the defendant Linda Lagoy. Goodman v. Does 1–10, No. 4:13–CV–139, 2014 WL 1310310 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 28, 2014). The court noted that Goodman, who was a licensed … Continue reading

Online v. Offline Agreements: Braverman v. Yelp

A New York state trial court recently ruled in a long-running dispute between a cosmetic dentist and Yelp, the online consumer review site. Braverman v. Yelp, Inc., No. 158299-2013 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Feb. 24, 2014). The dentist originally complained that Yelp had defamed him by permitting negative reviews about him to appear on Yelp’s site.  That claim … Continue reading

Ninth Circuit extends freedom of the press protection to blogger

The Ninth Circuit has extended an additional level of protection for company publications that take the form of blogs. In reference to the level of fault required to prove liability for an allegedly defamatory posting, the court explained that it is irrelevant whether a blogger is a member of an institutional press corps or a … Continue reading

Fictitious social media profiles under the Lanham Act

On November 7, 2013, the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia issued its opinion in AvePoint Inc. v. Power Tools, Inc., a case that, at least in part, has fortified the ability of a competitor injured by a fictitious social media profile to bring a claim under the Lanham Act. In … Continue reading

SPEECH Act – US and Canadian defamation standards

In a case of first impression, the Fifth Circuit recently applied the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (“SPEECH Act”) to protect a blogger from a defamation-based default judgment obtained in Canada.  28 U.S.C. § 4201; Trout Point Lodge, Ltd. v. Handshoe, No. 13-60002 (5th Cir. Sept. 5, 2013). The plaintiffs had … Continue reading

The Rise of the #Hashtag

Every day, hundreds of millions of people use social media to share their thoughts about everything that is happening around them. The most popular social media sites do not have simple ways to search for and organize content, so users turned to the hashtag to solve the problem. Hashtags are words or phrases prefixed with the … Continue reading

Social Media and Anti-SLAPP Cases

In a recent defamation case where the defendant sought anti-SLAPP protection related to internet forum posts about the plaintiffs, a federal district court recognized that social-media speech is no different from “traditional” speech. See Piping Rock Partners, Inc. v. David Lerner Assocs., Inc., No. C 12-04634 SI (N.D. Cal. May 17, 2013) (Illston, J.). “SLAPP” is an … Continue reading
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