Many people treat the internet as the place where you can say anything you want, whenever you want to say it. Often, people have a false sense of security and do not recognize that there can be consequences for posts made on social media.
Defamation refers to false statements presented as facts to harm another person. Libel is a written form of defamation.
Opinion vs. fact
The person spreading the information must phrase the statement as a fact rather than an opinion. Generally, opinions are not a matter of defamation. However, a person cannot make a statement on social media, preface it as an opinion and escape a defamation suit. The court will look for context and reason for the belief. For example, if someone phrases a statement as an opinion but intends for the rumor to spread as fact, this is still defamation.
Damages and harm
One of the most critical pieces of defamation lawsuits is the damages. Social media posts must cause real damage. For example, if a social media post ruins a company’s reputation and causes economic damage, the company would have a claim for defamation. People can file lawsuits due to emotional damage but must prove it was significant enough to affect their lives.
When someone repeats something he or she saw or heard on social media, it can still constitute defamation. If the statement is clearly false or the person did not practice due diligence in confirming the information, he or she may still be liable for the spread of defamation.