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Online Defamation Essay Sample

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Online Defamation Essay Sample

What Is Defamation?

Defamation is a false and unprivileged statement of fact that is harmful to someone’s reputation, and published “with fault,” meaning as a result of negligence or malice. State laws often define defamation in specific ways. Libel is a written defamation;

Slander is a spoken defamation.

Online defamation is the publication of such statements made on any Internet based media including blogs, forums, websites, and even social networking websites. While many Internet users believe that they are free to say and do as they like while on the Internet, this is untrue and the same defamation laws and regulations stand for online defamation as they do in any form of media. If you tweet, blog, tag or post, here are five steps to keep you out of defamation danger:

1 .Know what constitutes defamation.

Just as its name suggests, defamation is when you defame another person through harmful statements about another person that you know or should know are false. -Slander, when such statements are spoken, and libel, when they are written, are forms of defamation.

2) Stick to facts; avoid opinions that could be construed as facts.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but it’s critical to distinguish the difference between opinion and fact. If you believe a politician lied about his or her campaign finances, for example, but it’s not been proven, it’s best to precede any verbal or written statements about that belief with the words “in my opinion.” It’s better yet to keep potentially defamatory thoughts to yourself.

3) No name-calling.

Even if you think the latest celebrity mistress is a home wrecker, name-calling can constitute character assassination. He or she may believe their paramour truly was separated at the time of the affair, in which case the home was already wrecked and your statement is false.

4) Let readers reach their own conclusions.

It’s likely that when faced with the facts, the same facts you encountered, many of your Facebook followers will view situations much the same way you do–without you exposing yourself to defamation claims.

5) Don’t retweet or link to someone else’s potential defamatory material.

Someone else may originate a rumor, but that doesn’t stop it from being untrue. Regardless of where a defamatory statement originated, anyone who repeats it is just as liable as the initial source. What are some examples of libelous and non-libelous statements? The following are a couple of examples from California cases; note the law may vary from state to state. Libelous (when false):

•Charging someone with being a communist (in 1959)
•Calling an attorney a “crook”
•Describing a woman as a call girl
•Accusing a minister of unethical conduct
•Accusing a father of violating the confidence of son


•Calling a political foe a “thief” and “liar” in chance encounter (because hyperbole in context) •Calling a TV show participant a “local loser,” “chicken butt” and “big skank” •Calling someone a “bitch” or a “son of a bitch”

•Changing product code name from “Carl Sagan” to “Butt Head Astronomer” Since libel is considered in context, do not take these examples to be a hard and fast rule about particular phrases. Generally, the non-libelous examples are hyperbole or opinion, while the libelous statements are stating a defamatory fact.

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