You don't have to just sit back and take the hit when someone is telling falsehoods about you on the internet. When you are harmed by another's lies, it's called libel and you can be paid compensation if your case meets the legal requirements. Read on to find out what the requirements are and how to take action.
Civil Law and Defamation
Libel is one of two ways you can be defamed. Libel refers to the written word and slander refers to the spoken word. As far as the internet goes, libel is usually the appropriate form of action to take unless the lies are being told using a podcast or other verbal means. To defame is to damage a person's reputation by stating falsehoods in written or verbal form.
Libelous Words on the Internet
The popularity of the internet has given rise to all sorts of ways to express opinions about almost anything. Unfortunately, just because it's on the internet does not mean it's okay. Freedom of speech goes only so far but some people are emboldened by the apparent anonymity of the keyboard and screen. Libel can be perpetrated almost anywhere writing appears online. In the past, libelous writings were restricted to newspapers, magazines, and books. Now, though, you can be libeled online in a myriad of ways. Here are just a few of those ways:
- Comments following blog posts.
- Posts on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and more.
- Blog articles.
What Harm Is Done?
They are just words, after all, right? Unfortunately, words from any source have the power to do great harm. Words can begin wars, end marriages, and cause great harm to innocent people. That is why civil law sets aside special rules for dealing with defamation and libel. However, before you start threatening to sue someone, consider what makes a good libel case:
The victim must be able to show that harm has resulted from the libelous writings. That could be damage to your personal relationships such as when it's alleged that you are cheating on your spouse to career damage when it's alleged that you are stealing from your employer. Harm might also be embarrassment from a post.
Proven to be False
The writing has to be proven as untrue. If what was written was essentially true, then it doesn't meet the main requirement needed to move forward with a case. For example, if a Facebook poster alleges that you, as a law enforcement officer, are taking bribes and looking the other way to allow illegal activities, you must be able to prove that you are not doing so if you intend to take action against the poster.
You have a right to file suit against a writer of lies if the situation warrants it. To learn more, click this link.