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Cooper, Storm &
Piscopo Blog

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Can I sue over something posted on Facebook?

Facebook and other social media are intended to bring people together. However, many people use social media as their own personal platform to air grievances, whether they have any backing in the truth or not. This can lead to civil disputes and litigation, as illustrated by a case occurring a few years back. 

Good Housekeeping recounts the story of an employee who posted what was found to be a defamatory statement about a fellow worker. The post, which was surely in poor taste, didn't name the woman but inferred that she was responsible for her son's death, which occurred in 1976. It also inferred the woman was drunk at the time of her son's death. The subject of the post fought back against the false statements and was awarded $500,000 in damages. Of that number, half was awarded for the actual defamation, while the other half were punitive damages to deter others from following suit. 

It's clear that defamatory speech online can get you in trouble. But how can you tell when you're being defamed on social media? explains some of the hallmarks of defamation. First and foremost, the statement must be false. In the above example, the woman cited in the Facebook post was cleared of any wrongdoing in her son's death and was also not found to be drunk at the time he died. Next, it must be shown that the intent behind the statement was malicious and that the statement was published or otherwise conveyed to a third party.

The statement must also be capable of harming the subject's reputation and this harm must also be proved in court. If a defamatory statement caused a business owner to lose customers, he or she could present earnings information to the court after the statement was made. You may have suffered physically or emotionally as a result of the statement. In this case, you could present medical records or have a doctor provide testimony on your behalf. 

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