In your state, you are required to confirm you wish to access this information. Please enter 'QLD' or 'WA' in the field below to continue.

No thanks

Defamation on Facebook: Seven steps to protect your reputation

man-checks-phone

Peter Coggins Written by:
Peter Coggins
National Manager - Professional Negligence

Every week, Shine Lawyers’ National Defamation practice receives multiple enquiries from people impacted by defamatory comments on Facebook; and the numbers are going up.

Our right to free speech

Many individuals are under the impression that under Australian law, we have an overarching right to free speech, and this right protects those who makes offensive and deprecating comments about others on social media.

In reality, there is no right to unfettered free speech in Australia, and we have a national regime of robust defamation laws to protect those who are subject to damaging and defamatory comments.

Facebook defamation: What can you do?

Defamatory and demeaning comments on Facebook can really hurt your personal and professional reputation if immediate action isn’t taken. So if you believe you have been defamed on Facebook, or a similar social media platform, follow these seven key steps to protect both your reputation and your right to take action:

1) Act fast

In Australia, you only have one year from the date of the defamatory post to institute legal proceedings. Identifying and locating the party responsible can be tricky, particularly in social media cases, so it is important to take action as soon as you become aware of the defamatory post.

2) Capture all evidence

Take a screen shot or find some other way to capture the defamatory comments. While the offensive post could be recovered if deleted, having evidence of the defamatory material allows us to use it in the initial stages of your claim. It is also important to capture any further comments, ‘likes’ or shares that have been made by others in support of the defamatory post. This assists us in establishing defamatory meaning – an important part of your defamation case.

3) Financial impacts

If you believe that the comments have impacted you financially – such as a downturn in trade for your business or an impact on the amount of contract work you might receive – you should gather all historical and current financial data from your business. Of course, any specific evidence linking the defamatory comments to economic loss should be preserved.

woman-concerned-checks-computer

4) Keep your distance

Where possible, refrain from engaging directly with the person who has defamed you, or anyone who has commented on the defamatory post. As difficult as this may be, retaliating can damage your case and exacerbate the initial harm to your reputation.

5) Let Facebook know

After you have captured evidence of the comments, contact Facebook or the social media platform. Report the post and the comments, and ask for them to be taken down. Once you have made this request, monitor Facebook’s response and any action taken.

6) Know your desired outcome

Consider the outcome you wish to achieve by bringing a defamation claim. Damages are available for defamation. However, the national regime caps the amount courts can award. Other remedies may include orders for formal written apologies, removal of the comments or posts, or court injunctions.

7) Stay calm

Last but not least, don’t panic. The Australian legal system is more than capable of handling defamation cases involving Facebook and other social media platforms, and the Courts will continue to apply the strong protections under our defamation laws.

For more information, or to start your defamation claim, get in touch with Shine Lawyers’ Defamation practice today.

Written by Peter Coggins on . Last modified: August 18, 2017.

Join the discussion

Share this article:

There are 0 comments. Be the first!

Defamation decisions around Australia

Australia’s defamation laws are there to protect individuals from offensive and slanderous publications, but this is no easy task. There is no hard and fast rule on what amounts to defamation, and a lot depends on the circumstances of each case. We take a look at some recent cases from around Australia to shed some […]

Read more

Same-sex marriage: How to express your opinion without breaking the law

After the Australian High Court recently handed down its blessing for the Australian Marriage Law Postal survey to proceed, it is expected that both sides of the debate will intensify their campaigning to garner public support. With the survey being voluntary, both sides will be competing for publicity and media attention for their cause, aiming […]

Read more

Damages for defamation: Rebel Wilson case study

Australian actress Rebel Wilson has today been awarded $4.5 million in damages for defamation arising from Bauer Media’s publications, in which it portrayed Ms Wilson as a ‘liar’ in relation to her age and upbringing. In June 2017, a jury found the publications were defamatory and today, the judge handed down his decision with respect to […]

Read more

What constitutes defamation?

What is defamation? Defamation is when a person says slanderous things that may cause damage to another’s reputation. Common defamatory comments include: Accusations that someone has committed a crime Accusations that someone has a disease Accusations that someone is conducting fraudulent activities If the defamatory comments are written or published, this is called libel. Verbal or […]

Read more

Call Us Now

Our friendly consultants are available to talk Monday to Friday, 8:15am to 6:00pm AEST.

1800 618 851

Live Chat

Chat with Shine Lawyers through the livechat system without leaving your computer. No downloading, completely private and best of all - its easy to use.

Start a live chat now

Enquire Now

Enquire now