Tech Law: Yes, you can be sued for sharing a defamatory Facebook post or tweet

by Paul Jacobson (@pauljacobson) In the recent Isparta v Richter and Another case, Acting Judge Hiemstra found that the first defendant’s comments were defamatory. Reading the judgment, you may be forgiven for forgetting to ask whether the second defendant is also liable, particularly given that the second defendant was only tagged in the offending Facebook posts. Hiemstra’s finding on this question was very brief and, at the same time, pretty profound:

[35] The second defendant is not the author of the postings. However, he knew about them and allowed his name to be coupled with that of the first defendant He is as liable as the first defendant.

This is a pretty powerful finding. In the context of Facebook it means that, if you are tagged in defamatory content and you don’t do anything about being tagged (or perhaps even mentioned), you could be liable, too. This argument likely extends to other platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+ and perhaps even Twitter.

In the case of Facebook, you can control who can tag you (you can choose to approve any tags before the posts become public). As with Facebook, you can mention LinkedIn users, although it’s not clear whether you can control this and remove tags. It’s the same issue with Google+ mentions.

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