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Facebook and Slander – What constitutes slanderous remarks on Facebook?


A hot topic in the courts at the moment is people claiming that comments made on Facebook constitute slander.

In a very recent case that went all the way to the Supreme Court the concept of the reasonable reader was discussed[1].  It was ruled that social media users are a new class of readers.  They are speed readers who flick between various posts and their reactions are therefore ‘impressionistic and fleeting’.  The ordinary reader of social media is often a casual reader who does not over-analyse the meaning of words. 

However this does not mean that people can use social media as a platform to make defamatory or false accusations about an individual.  The context of whatever has been written will be analysed.  If it can be found that the writer was intentionally being defamatory then the person it has been directed at may be successful in court in pursing the writer for slander.  Although borderline cases where it is in unclear of the writers intention will now most likely be unsuccessful in the courts.

In another recent case it was ruled that unless a publication on Facebook has caused serious harm then no material harm has been done and the publication would not be considered slanderous[2].

It is clear from the above cases that courts are setting a high standard in proving slanderous comments on Facebook.  This is a relatively new and fast changing area of law and at SME solicitors we pride ourselves on being informed of the latest developments in case law.

For advice on this, or any other litigation matter, contact the litigation team on 01905 723 561 or email: info@smesolicitors.co.uk

 

[1] Stocker v Stocker [2019] UKSC 17.

[2] Alexander-Theodotou & Ors v Kounis [2019] EWHC 956 (QB) (16 April 2019)

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Added: 13 Jun 2019 14:44


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