Can You Sue Someone for Slander on Facebook?

Can You Sue Someone for Slander on Facebook?

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Can You Sue Someone for Slander on Facebook?

“Believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” For social media platforms like Facebook, that old proverb is truer than ever.

Millions of false statements are published on Facebook every day. Many of these false statements are completely harmless. Nobody is hurt when you falsely claim that you saw Bigfoot while hiking through the forest or that you are too sick to attend a boring family get-together. But sadly, not all of these false statements are harmless.

If somebody falsely claims that you committed a crime or that your business is poisoning customers, this claim can seriously harm your reputation or career.

You might be arrested or lose your livelihood as a result of those false statements. And even if you can prove your innocence, it could take significant time and money to do so, and your reputation might be permanently damaged.

If this has happened to you, you might be asking yourself this question: Can you sue someone for slander on Facebook?

The good news is that you can. Defamation of character lawyers from Morgan & Morgan may be able to help you get compensation for the harm you have suffered from false posts on Facebook. Contact us today to get a free evaluation of your slander case.

Before Filing a Lawsuit

Rather than asking, “Can you sue someone for slander on Facebook?” you should ask, “When can you sue someone for slander on Facebook?”

Slander refers to spoken defamation. For example, a defamatory statement streamed on Facebook Live could be slander. If the defamatory statement were written in a post, it would be libel.

Many of the laws surrounding slander and libel are similar; the main difference is whether the statement is verbal or published.

You can retain a lawyer the moment anyone makes a false statement about you. But not all false statements amount to slander. And even when a false statement is slanderous, a lawsuit might not be your best option.

Before filing a lawsuit, first, determine whether the false statement legally counts as defamation. To make this determination, speak to a Morgan and Morgan attorney. As part of our free evaluation of your case, we might ask the following questions:

  • Was the Facebook post substantially false?
  • Was the poster aware that the statement was false?
  • Was the post a statement of fact rather than an opinion?
  • Was the post made without your permission?
  • Did the content of the false statement cause serious harm to you?
  • Can the harm from that false statement be assigned a monetary value?

If the answer to all of these questions is “yes,” you are the victim of defamation and may be in a good position to file a lawsuit. However, even if you can file a lawsuit, it may be best to wait. Other steps may solve your problem more effectively without going through the court system.

Report the Defamatory Post and the User to Facebook

Facebook has robust reporting mechanisms that are supposed to protect users from slander and libel. Before doing anything else, you should report the defamatory post to Facebook using those reporting mechanisms. This is the easiest and fastest way to get the post deleted.

Suppose that Facebook refuses to delete the post even after you have provided evidence that it is defamatory. In that case, you may be able to pursue legal action against both Facebook and the user who made the post. Because of this risk, Facebook is likely to remove the post out of an abundance of caution.

Removing the false claim will likely minimize any harm to you. However, if a user reposts a defamatory statement after Facebook has removed it, this will strengthen your case if you do later bring a lawsuit.

Block the Poster

If somebody is making false statements about you, they are probably trying to provoke a reaction. They want to see you get angry or upset. By blocking the poster, you remove their ability to spectate. This won’t necessarily prevent them from continuing to slander you, but it should decrease the effect of that slander.

When you block someone, they are no longer able to read your posts or see your profile. This means the user has no clue what effect their defamation is having and can no longer gather information about you from your Facebook profile. Many slanderers will just stop once they are blocked.

However, before you block the user, you should collect and preserve all of the evidence you can. You might also want to recruit someone you trust to monitor their Facebook page to see whether the behavior stops or continues.

Send a Letter Demanding the Slanderer Cease Their Behavior

Your lawyer can write a formal demand letter requesting that the defamation end. This demand letter might be all it takes to end the slander. Once a lawyer gets involved, many people will get scared and stop inappropriate behavior. Even if the person doesn’t stop defaming you, the demand letter acts as a warning that you intend to file a lawsuit.

Evidence of Slander

Not only can you sue someone for slander on Facebook, but it is often easier than suing someone for other types of slander. Facebook posts create a record. And records can be used as evidence in a defamation trial.

There are several ways to preserve a Facebook post for evidence. You can and should take a screenshot of the slander or libel in case the person later tries to delete it. That screenshot will include time and date stamps that are part of the post and will show who made the post.

Additionally, once you file a lawsuit, you can request a record of the post from Facebook. Facebook keeps archives of all posts ever made, including all edits made to the post. That means even if the poster tries to edit or delete the post, Facebook can produce a copy of the original post and a record of changes to that post.

This is much more convenient than the evidence in most slander cases, where we are forced to rely on witness testimony regarding what was said and when it was said. The only thing you need to do is preserve as much evidence as you have access to as quickly as possible.

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Morgan & Morgan

  • Can You Sue Someone for Slander on Facebook If They State an Opinion?

    Courts have long ruled that opinions are not slander. However, that is only true if an opinion is reasonable.

    For example, suppose that somebody claims that it is their opinion that you stole their car. That opinion isn’t reasonable if they know that the car thief was someone else. Because they are aware of facts that undeniably disprove their opinion, it is not reasonable.

    Similarly, if someone expresses an opinion and you can provide facts that disprove the opinion, the person should cease to claim the opinion.

    Facebook creates a permanent record. If they don’t delete or retract the original post, they are open to claims of defamation, even if they aren’t continuing to post the falsehood.

  • If It Is Written Content, Isn’t It Libel?

    Defamatory remarks on social media may be considered slander or libel, depending on the medium of the statement. The standards for proving slander and libel are very similar. Your Morgan & Morgan attorney will determine which definition fits the falsehoods being spread about you on social media and file an appropriate lawsuit.

  • Can You Sue Even If the Person Deletes the Post?

    Yes. Deleting a post may reduce the damage caused by the post, but it doesn’t protect the poster from being liable for any harm caused by originally making the false post.

    The more interesting question is whether you should sue after a post is deleted. The answer depends on how severe the harm was. Severity is usually judged by the monetary relief you can get from a lawsuit.

    If the relief you can receive is only a few hundred dollars or less, it probably isn’t worth your time to file a lawsuit. The removal of the post, along with an agreement not to do it again, should be more than enough to resolve your problem.

  • Can a Morgan and Morgan Attorney Negotiate a Settlement?

    Before going to trial, we will try to negotiate a settlement. The majority of cases that we take end in settlements. While a lawsuit has the potential to get you more compensation than a settlement, it is inherently risky—and you might get nothing.

    A settlement means you know you are getting money, and it is usually much faster than a trial. Our attorneys are skilled negotiators with an excellent record of success at getting fair settlements for victims of defamation.

  • Can I Press Charges for Internet Slander?

    Some states allow for criminal charges for slander, but not many. In most cases, your only legal option is to file a lawsuit. Our attorneys do not press criminal charges, but we can direct you to the appropriate authorities if that is a path you want to follow.

  • What Are Your Options If Facebook Refuses to Remove the Post?

    Facebook has a built-in appeals process, and our lawyers can help you navigate that process. We can help you identify the type of evidence that will prove that the post was defamatory, increasing the likelihood that Facebook will comply.

    If all else fails, we can send a demand letter to Facebook and threaten legal action if the company continues to allow defamatory content to remain on its site. But we may not be able to force Facebook to remove the content until after a finding of defamation has been made by the courts.

  • What Do You Do If You Don’t Know the Real Name of the Person Slandering You?

    One of the downsides of the internet is that it allows people to act anonymously. When we begin legal action against someone, we can contact Facebook and request contact information for the individual.

    If Facebook refuses to comply, we can even subpoena that information. But usually, just filing a lawsuit is enough to get Facebook to provide that information.

  • How Can You Sue Someone for Slander on Facebook?

    When someone has harmed your reputation or livelihood with false statements, speak to the defamation of character attorneys from Morgan and Morgan. If you have been slandered on Facebook, contact our legal team today to get a free case evaluation for your defamation of character case.

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