Social Media has become the online meeting place for the world’s citizens. Apart from meeting like-minded people around the globe, one can create fulfilling personal and professional relationships. Business houses have also utilized this extensive reach – nowadays, companies introduce and promote products extensively over social media platforms. Even ever-elusive celebrities maintain personal relationships with their fans through social media platforms.
However, worldwide reach and the power to become anyone in cyberspace are also becoming a nuisance for social media users. The practice of slandering someone on social media is now standard and rampant. For instance, the percentage of Australians using social media has increased by 67% over a 16-year period – which has also increased the chances of cyber defamation events.
What is defamation?
The words “defamation suit” is common among the political pages and the entertainment tabloids – where celebrities are going to court against each other or media persons. Therefore, knowing the meaning of defamation is vital to understand the legal implications correctly. Defamation occurs when someone – a person, institution, or an outlet – makes untrue statements about another person, orally or in writing, that damage their reputation. Incidentally, verbal defamation is also known as ‘slander,’ whereas its written counterpart is called ‘libel.’
However, these two events differ from ‘cyber fraud’ or ‘cyberbullying.’ The persons committing the former get fined or ordered to pay financial compensation at the most, whereas the perpetrator of the latter can get jail time. Therefore, it is imperative to know the difference while putting your opinion on social media. Most of the time, ill information or deliberate misinformation can transform a passionate view into slandering someone on social media, damaging multiple fronts for not only the victim.
What is social media defamation?
As discussed earlier, social media has garnered a wholesome reputation for individual and business users. When someone uses different social media platforms to spread untruths about another individual or business institution that damaged their reputation, the event becomes a case of social media defamation. Some of the well-known platforms utilized by the perpetrators are:
Apart from them, any untrue or socially-damaging falsifications written on blogs and articles will also fall under social media defamation cases. These untruths are documented on social media platforms; they fall under ‘libel’ and are treated as such by the court of law.
Although there is no set terms or definition which encompasses the reach of social media defamation claims, the following represents the legal requirement for social media representation:
- A proclamation or publication that talks about the applicant.
- A statement within this – can trigger or be expected to cause serious harm to the claimant’s reputation.
- The statement must be false and not be substantiated to be accurate or justified through other legal defenses- such as the defense of truth or honest opinion defenses.
So, whether you are a victim or accused in Australia, it is better to contact a social media defamation lawyer Perth for proper and comprehensive representation.
Impact of social media defamation
The 21st century has observed the use and utilization of the World Wide Web to the point of becoming an indispensable part of the general livelihood, and social media is no exception. The statistics available paint quite a decent picture.
According to trusted sources, more than 4.72 billion people used social media around the globe in 2022, which was a 12.3% increase from the figure in 2021. Relatedly, an average person spent two hours and twenty-four minutes of their daily lives on social media platforms, showing a 38% increase in usage from the preceding year. So, using the power of social media to engineer an attempt to harm an individual’s or a business’s reputation makes sense, as the modern age citizens use it to connect extensively. Damaging fame on this platform can have genuine and observable effects.
Utilizing the supposed anonymity
Several individuals’ work or education needs require them to stay far from their families, and they use social media platforms to contact and keep in touch with their friends and families. Moreover, people find romantic partners, make new friends, or connect with public figures (such as politicians, athletes, and celebrities). Moreover, most businesses nowadays create social media accounts to expand brand responsiveness and link with prospective consumers. Along with these honest users, several entities exist in the online universe that uses their funds to slander, harass, and defame others online.
One can become anonymous on social media platforms, as they are not required to share or divulge their true identity there. These anonymous accounts allow such individuals to post derogatory comments with the conjecture of them being untraceable. They become progressively bold and post comments without any filter.
The wide-reaching and constant presence of social media allow the publication of these harmful and false statements every day. often without any checks or verification. These negative comments often result in untoward consequences for both the victim and the poster.
What harm can you face because of social media defamation?
Social media defamation is severe and can have consequences for both the victim and the publisher. Whether you are an individual or a business, these untrue and harmful statements can cause you to experience the following:
- Damage to reputation
As social media is accessible to everyone, anyone in your circle – friends, colleagues, and family may see or hear about the defamatory statements. Your reputation and relationship could suffer if they believe these untruths or act upon them.
- Financial loss
If you have a business, and someone makes a defamatory comment or statement about it – potential customers may stop doing business with you if they believe the vicious lies. An example would be posting fake online reviews and fabricated photos to claim some trumped-up health violation. Recently, some businesses have started calling out these commentators and exposing them online – but this effort can also create attempts to file defamation cases against these businesses.
- Psychological harms
Commenting negatively about a person, or defaming a company on social media, maybe child’s play for these posters – but it affects the victim extensively. These comments or complaints can affect their reputation, relationships, professional lives, and mental health. Victims of defamation can suffer from anxiety, depression, and stress because of the turmoil the defamation attempts in their lives. Many of them are known to seek psychiatric help after such episodes.
The steps to take if victimized
There are laws to counter online defamation, and nowadays, defaming a company on social media can have severe consequences for these posters. However, if you are the victim of these attempts, here are some ways you can respond to these attempts:
- Keep calm: Like the statement of the famous meme, the best response is often giving none. Getting embroiled in a social media war with some two-bit or paid commenter will ultimately be counterproductive. A better strategy is to take a screenshot or a photo of the comment before the person behind the post can delete it.
- Collect evidence: There is a chance that the offending poster will delete or edit their comment to escape the apparent backlash, so it’s essential to act swiftly and capture and preserve the article, post, or comment. It’s better to use a forensic preservation tool to create a legally-acceptable and authenticated copy to hold up in court.
The best step is to take the help of a Defamation claim Lawyer early on to ensure you take the appropriate steps. Get the best options to address the issue of social media defamation.