How To Deal With Defamation on Twitter
Do you want to learn how to deal with defamation on twitter? Take a look at this guide from the Mullen Law Firm. Give us a call if you need legal help dealing with defamation on twitter.
Dealing With Defamation on Twitter
Twitter, now rebranded as “X,” is a popular social media platform where people can freely communicate and express their thoughts and ideas to a worldwide audience.
The platform allows people to post tweets (short statements and videos) and share information and individual opinions with a broad audience at the click of a button.
But because communication on Twitter is so easy, people often use it as a tool to spread false statements about others.
Generally, when someone makes a false, defamatory statement about you to others, you can file a defamation lawsuit against them. But does this rule apply to defamatory content posted on platforms like Twitter? The details in this guide can provide answers to this and any other questions you might have about dealing with defamation on Twitter. Keep reading to learn more.
What Makes a Tweet Defamatory?
Generally, a defamatory statement is one that meets the following conditions:
It is a statement of fact and not a statement of opinion. Opinions are protected under the First Amendment (protection of free speech). As such, a defamation lawsuit based on a statement of opinion is likely to fail.
It is false. No matter how unpleasant, a true statement cannot be the subject of a defamation claim.
It was published or shared with a third party. “Third party” here means at least one other person other than the maker of the statement or the person against whom the statement was made.
The false statements damaged the defamed person’s reputation and affected their personal or professional life.
For public figures and sometimes businesses, there is an additional requirement; that the offending statement was made with actual malice. A person acts with actual malice when they know that the statement they made was false at the time they made it or showed reckless disregard and did not care about the accuracy of the statement.
A tweet is defamatory when it meets the above requirements. But sometimes, it could be difficult to tell when offensive tweets constitute defamation. If you have questions on this point, consider seeking clarification and legal counsel from an experienced defamation lawyer who can assess your case and determine whether there is a basis for legal action.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Defamatory Tweets?
If someone has made a defamatory post or comment about you on Twitter, you can hold them responsible for their actions as long as the tweets meet the legal requirements and conditions for defamation.
But, section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields Twitter from lawsuits based on the content published by its users. So, you cannot sue Twitter or hold them responsible if a Twitter user posts a defamatory tweet even though it was posted on their platform.
However, Twitter actively controls the content on its platform and allows Twitter users to report harmful or inappropriate tweets that violate Twitter rules.
Once such a report is made, the company may take down the post or comment and sometimes suspend or permanently ban the account of the person who made the statement. You can try making such reports to quickly reduce the reach or damage caused by a defamatory statement.
But you’ll still need to file a defamation claim against the maker of the statement if you hope to get any substantial legal remedy such as compensation (damages).
Can You Sue Someone for Retweeting a Defamatory Post?
Twitter makes the dissemination of information so simple that if one person makes a post or comment, other users can share or retweet the original post for even more people to see.
Already we’ve established that a person who makes a defamatory statement on Twitter is liable for their actions. Does liability also extend to those who shared the original post? Many people believe that liability in such circumstances only lies with the person who made the original post, and the decision of the New Hampshire Supreme Court in Banaian vs. Bascom appears to support this position.
This aspect of defamation law is still developing because the issue has yet to receive significant judicial attention in many states in the U.S.
But as it stands, you may be unable to sustain a defamation claim against someone who retweets a defamatory statement. Since this area of law is still evolving, you’re better off pursuing a claim against the original poster.
Does Deleting a Defamatory Tweet Make It Possible for the Poster To Avoid Legal Consequences?
Tweets can be deleted at the click of a button. But while deleting a tweet removes it from the user’s profile, it does not change the fact that many people may have viewed or reshared the tweet. If the tweet is defamatory, then the damage to the subject’s reputation would already have been done.
Therefore the answer to the above question is no. Deleting a defamatory tweet does not absolve the maker of legal liability. However, deleting the tweet may make the defamation more difficult to prove, so you must preserve relevant evidence and information related to the defamatory tweet as soon as you’re aware of it.
How To Collect or Preserve Evidence of Twitter Defamation
The easiest way to preserve evidence of defamation on Twitter is to take screenshots of the tweet once you’re aware of it. Be sure to capture the name of the Twitter account and the time and date the defamatory tweet was made. You may need this information to file your defamation claim.
You can also screenshot responses or retweets to the defamatory tweet. They would help to establish the extent to which the defamatory post spread and the consequent damage to your reputation.
If the tweet has already been deleted, all hope is not lost. Twitter retains data generated from the platform briefly before disposing of them permanently. An experienced social media attorney would know how to retrieve the relevant evidence directly from Twitter, but you’ll need to act fast before the data is gone.
Fight Defamation on Twitter With Help From the Mullen Law Firm
The unique nature of the internet and social media platforms such as Twitter make it easy for defamation to occur. Sadly this type of defamation may be difficult to prove because the offending data can easily be erased.
But with help from an internet defamation lawyer, you can obtain the information necessary to prove your case and repair your reputation even if the defamatory statement has been deleted.
At the Mullen Law Firm, we understand the damage that defamation on the internet can do, and we are here to help you restore your reputation through the legal process.
With our extensive defamation law experience, you can rely on us to handle your case diligently and help you obtain the evidence you need to succeed with your case.
We serve clients in New York and New Jersey. If you have questions about a defamation incident in those states or New York defamation law, do not hesitate to contact our experienced defamation lawyer in NYC and NJ.
We’d be glad to answer your questions and help you navigate the legal process as you seek an appropriate legal solution to your problems.