Search Site
Menu
Libel Cases Resulting From Social Media: The New Frontier

LIBEL CASES RESULTING FROM SOCIAL MEDIA: THE NEW FRONTIER

Everyone is a reporter these days. We all carry a recording studio with high-quality video and sound and a printing press in our pocket. We all have the capability to publish current “news” and go live on Facebook at a moment’s notice and many do. And once that news hits the airwaves, comments, shares and retweets soon follow, including personal opinions and conjecture. We’ve all heard the term “fake news” being used in reference to information published by established news sources, but what responsibility and potential liability does the average citizen or business have in exercising their free speech rights by publishing or commenting on social media?

The landmark Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan 376 U.S. 254 (1964) established “actual malice” (very close to actual intent to cause harm) as the standard to pursue a libel or slander case against a publisher for press reports about public officials. The Court’s objective was to promote free speech by assuring public persons could not use their power, influence and money to keep papers from publishing information that may be damaging. The problem in today’s world is determining who is “the press” and who are the “public” figures. Is everyone with an active social media presence a public figure? As indicated above, is everyone a reporter? Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 has insulated internet service from civil defamation suits provided they are not the one producing the disputed content themselves. For the most part, providers of the publishing platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) have taken the position they are not liable for information shared by others using their site because they are not creating the content. Companies like Facebook are re-evaluating this stance after recent events involving live streams of shootings and assaults on social media.

In our business practice, we have seen an increase in individuals and businesses being party to controversies associated with information published via social media. Aggrieved people and businesses often take to social media to air their grievances and report the “facts” without regard to potential liability for those statements. The perceived anonymity created by the internet and services that allow nameless posts and communications often embolden action in this arena. On the flip side, valuable information is easily available at your fingertips. It is our belief that in the coming years we are going to see a significant increase in court cases based on social media posts and additional legislation attempting to address responsibility and liability. In the meantime, it is our advice to be careful when commenting or posting online, as well as publishing social media content if the information cannot be verified. It is a wonderful and scary new world, and we are here to help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact a Dedicated Texas Business Lawyer To Schedule a Consultation
Call 281-367-1222 or contact us online to schedule a meeting.

Strong In Action

  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm represents borrower in $42.3 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Walton County, Florida.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm acts as legal counsel for borrower in $32.1 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Conroe, Texas.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm aids borrower in $31.7 million HUD construction loan for multifamily real estate development in Nueces County, Texas.

    Read More
  • Spring 2019

    The Strong Firm represents borrower in the refinancing of a $3.57 million commercial mortgage-backed security for a commercial office facility in Montgomery County, Texas.

    Read More
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  • Peer Rated 2019 Award

Recent Blog Posts

“So…What Happens to My Bitcoin When I Die?” Modern Estate Planning for Digital Assets and Cryptocurrencies

Millennials have complicated everything. Socializing in person wasn’t enough, so they created Facebook. Dollars weren’t enough, so they created Bitcoin. Every new app, technology or cryptocurrency brings with it more uncertainty legal uncertainty around these digital assets. Are they currency? Are they property? Can they be gifted? Can they be
Read More
“So…What Happens to My Bitcoin When I Die?” Modern Estate Planning for Digital Assets and Cryptocurrencies

A Win for Property Owners: New Texas Law Makes it Difficult for Forced Annexation

The State of Texas is a strong advocate for protecting property owners from the forced taking of land, including eminent domain, foreclosure or annexation. This year, the Texas Legislature enacted a bill that protects landowners for decades to come from forced annexation. In 1858, Texas passed the first statute allowing incorporation
Read More
A Win for Property Owners: New Texas Law Makes it Difficult for Forced Annexation

Wait… Lawyers Do That?

Since the founding of the Strong Firm P.C. in 2004, we have prided ourselves on not only providing excellent legal services, but also playing a large role in our community. Every year I have the opportunity to speak to area students from first grade through college grad students on legal-related
Read More
Wait… Lawyers Do That?

Part II – Probate: Identify the Most Efficient Probate Proceeding – Muniment of Title

Texas law provides several options to transfer ownership of a deceased person’s (usually called a “decedent”) property. We previously discussed the difference between a dependent and an independent administration. The dependent and independent administrations are used when the deceased person’s estate exceeds some minimal thresholds for size or complexity, such
Read More
Part II – Probate: Identify the Most Efficient Probate Proceeding – Muniment of Title
  • Video Vault


    Watch videos done by our legal team to gain a better understanding of your legal needs. Our lawyers give video insight into areas such as Real Estate, Business Law, Mergers & Acquisitions and much more.

Pay Retainer Online

Use our easy-to-use and secure online payment feature.
We accept all major credit cards.

Pay Your Retainer

Contact us

Quick Contact Form