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Is It Fair To Sue For a Tweet?

Is It Fair to Sue Because of a Tweet?

One of the things that fascinates me about social networking sites and their increasing popularity is the legal uncertainty surrounding them. Since they're a relatively new phenomenon — not to mention they live on the Internet, land of no policing — there are few laws in place to protect users or potential targets of libelous activity. It's always interesting to read stories about law and technology, like this article summarizing a few attempted lawsuits because of tweets posted to Twitter.

Singer Courtney Love is one recent lawsuit target. After she posted an alleged "false and derogatory" comment about a fashion designer, the designer sued for libel. There's also the case of a Chicago woman who posted a tweet accusing a former landlord of thinking it was safe for her to sleep in a moldy apartment. The landlord sued for $50,000 in damages, and the case is still pending.

There is a gray line between defamation and free speech, but with the Internet and services like Twitter, opinions and free speech can be made public very quickly. I tend to lean toward the "free speech" side of the argument here, though I don't think it's OK for someone to post false or defamatory information, either. Most of you agreed it was fair to sue Wikipedia for removal of false information, so what do you think about this case?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
dootsie dootsie 7 years
If "opinions" made as statements were covered against libel, anyone could say anything they wanted. If you say "My landlord thinks sleeping in a moldy house is okay, so don't rent from Jane Doe," is that an opinion? No. You're making a statement that could ruin someone's business. Now. If it's true? If she said that? It's hard to call that libelous. But it is damaging.
BarStar BarStar 7 years
There are laws that govern this, they're pretty clear, though they vary depending on what state you live in. A "tweet" is a publication of a written statement, so really all that matters is whether or not it's libelous under the laws of the jurisdiction that govern the suit. "Free speech" is kind of an irrelevant concept. If something is libel, it's libel. I think the real arguments at issue in these suits are whether or not the specific statements are libelous, not whether "tweets" should generally fall under the umbrella of things that can be considered libel. I think it goes without saying that they can be libelous. But I'm a lawyer, what do I know?
xgreenfairyx xgreenfairyx 7 years
Hey, if you don't want trouble, don't verbal diarrhea your problems in recordable media. I mean, c'mon...its clear evidence of what YOU said or what YOU did. Whether its true or not,'ll need to prove that in court. If you're dumb enough to blab about it using these outlets, then I got no sympathy for you. Next time, shut yer yap.
Akasha Akasha 7 years
I guess it really depends if the information is true, and how true it is. I have recently refrained from Facbooking or Tweeting the problems I'm having with my landlords but not because I'm afraid of what they'll do to me, but because I have decided to leave everything in the hands of my attorney. But I did facebook the pictures of the damage that had been done to my apartment and I got great advise that has helped me and even managed to connect with a great attorney whom I had gone to school with and lost touch with. People who tweet or facebook these kinds of things are most likely angry, but also want to warn others to beware of the people that have wronged them. I think that the people who are suing because of it are doing so not because the information might be libelous, but more because they don't want the world to know what kind of people they really are. Social networking sites are no different than people talking to their friends, but the problem for people who are not doing the right thing is that people's friend bases now include a whole lot more people. In my case ranting to my friends just got me fired up, but once I facebooked my problem real solutions came about. I guess I sort of have a split feelings on the subject.
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