March 16, 2011

Defamation on Twitter: Tweets & Lawsuits | Online Defamation Law

It all starts with a tweet.  A moment in time where someone speaks her mind in 140 characters or less.  By all appearances, it sounds harmless with so many tweets each day.  However, a tweet may lead to a lawsuit for internet defamation.  Internet defamation attorneys are very aware of this, but the ever-growing number of people on Twitter are finding out, sometimes the hard way, that statements made on social media platforms like Twitter are equally subject to claims for libel.  A recent story on online defamation law highlights but one example where a National Basketball Association (NBA) referee is suing an Associated Press (AP) writer over a tweet made during a basketball game.  The story notes:

In the second period, Spooner called a foul against a Timberwolves player. According to Spooner’s lawsuit, Wolves coach Kurt Rambis argued the call and Spooner told him he would review it at halftime. Rambis said that was fine, but asked how he was supposed to get the points back, according to the lawsuit.       

Spooner says in the lawsuit that he didn’t respond to Rambis. But Krawczynski, seated courtside, posted a tweet that said, “Ref Bill Spooner told Rambis he’d ‘get it back’ after a bad call. Then he made an even worse call on Rockets. That’s NBA officiating folks.”  This exchange resulted in an online defamation lawsuit seeking close to six figures in damages. 

This is not an isolated instance of a Twitter defamation lawsuit, which can lead to damages, costly settlements, and liability.  People and companies alike now monitor Twitter for defamatory statements, and when necessary, do not hesitate to contact an Internet defamation attorney to take action.  The consequences are not insignificant, as illustrated by a recent settlement involving a celebrity.

Thus, beware what you tweet, making sure it is the truth.  Moreover, recognize that the popularity of Twitter and its use by anyone from stay at home moms talking about a product to celebrities and athletes commenting on an event makes monitoring tweets involving you important.  Should you discover a false tweet, an internet defamation attorney with experience in social media defamation can help you.

COMMENTS

How long are Twitter defaming comments stuck in the WWW? Someone defamed my business name in April 2011. These 2 public Tweets were sent to my business account and were full of defaming comments. The attacks continued on my paid Flickr account, Lulu.com, Facebook, etc. Thank you.

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