Do You Have a Case in Online Defamation?
Published on:May 8, 2015

Do You Have a Case in Online Defamation?With the rise of content aggregation sites, social media networks and online commentary, the risk of the defamatory statement reaching the audience has increased tremendously in the recent years. People say derogatory and offensive things on social media very now and then, but you might ask yourself when do these words amounts into legally actionable defamation?

Statement of Fact

Defamation is a false, published statement that is injurious to your reputation. Unlike other tort actions, defamation requires a statement that is not only harmful to your reputation, but is also false. This means that a defamatory statement published online, no matter how embarrassing, damaging and hurtful, it will not amount to defamatory unless it is also false. You cannot succeed in an online defamation claim if the defamatory statement of the defendant was true. For instance, if a client posts a review of your product or business on social media, claiming that the product was defective, you may sue him/her for defamation. However, you will have to prove that the product was not defective, and thus, the client’s statement was false.


When it comes to statements that are considered personal opinion, defamation may be hard to prove. If the defendant tries to argue that the claimed defective product was an opinion, you cannot bring the defamation claim for an opinion: since the statement was phrased as the opinion of the defendant as opposed to a statement of fact. However, an opinion that is considered as a statement of fact by any reasonable person is deemed a statement of fact, and the defendant may be held liable.


Photoshop or modified photos that scandalize you or your business are clear defamation violation, and very popular is social media buttons. It is very easy for modified videos and photos to go viral. Often, courts find modified videos and photos defamatory. As the publisher of content, always ensure that any modification about an entity or a person is truthful and cannot amount to defamation.

Defamation for Public Figures

If a person claiming defamation is a public figure, for instance, a professional footballer, public official or other celebrities, there are additional requirements for a positive proof of defamation: actual malice. In the actual malice standard lawsuit, you must prove that the defendant knew that the statement he/she issued was false or show that the defendant acted recklessly and disregarded the truth and falsity statements. This means that even a damaging, false statement made on any social media networks about a public figure is not considered defamation if it was not made with actual malice.

Who Is Liable for Online Defamation?

People who suffer online defamation normally go after the Internet Service Provider or the website that hosts the defamatory content. Simply because such companies are wealthy and can afford to pay them the damages they demand. However, pursuing Internet Service Providers or a website is not a legal option when making a defamation claim. If you believe that you or your business have been defamed online in Staten Island, you should bring a compensation claim against an entity or person that actually made the defamatory statement through your personal injury attorney. The right court will be determined after the claim analysis is conducted by your personal injury lawyer. Remember, the person liable for defamation is the person who made the defamatory statement or an entity which published the statement.