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Social media sites result in sharp increase in online libel cases

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Information released by the legal information provider Sweet and Maxwell has shown that the number of claimants who have been defamed online has doubled in a year. Despite the sharp rise in online defamation the number of libel cases in total only increased by 4%.

The rise in popularity of social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, has lead to many commentators predicting a flood of cases. Korieh Duodo, a barrister and media specialist has warned about the impact on claimants by defamatory comments being made on such websites. He said: “People who find themselves damaged on social media sites can often find it time-consuming and difficult to have the offending material removed, because many platform providers do not accept responsibility for their users’ content.” He also added “Such is the speed at which information travels through social networks that one unchecked comment can spread into the mainstream media within minutes, which can cause irreparable damage to the subject who has been wronged.”

Interestingly the figures from Sweet and Maxwell showed a drop in the number of defamation cases brought by celebrities from 22 cases in 2009/10 to nine last year. It would seem that this is a result of the increased use by celebrities of privacy laws and obtaining injunctions from the High Court to prevent publication of potentially damaging material. Commenting on this Mr Duodo said: “With injunctions becoming ever more popular in recent years, many celebrities are now utilising them to prevent stories gaining wider traction in the media.”


Written by Andrew Hodges

September 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Posted in LinkedIn

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