Defamation laws exist to protect the reputation of individuals and businesses. Defamation is where something is published to lower the general opinion of, and cause damage to another person or business; this is illegal. Not surprisingly, as technology and social media continue to change and grow, so does defamation law. With social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Myspace and online forums it is easy to make your opinions known to a large group of people almost instantaneously.

This rapid development of social media has tested existing defamation laws as they struggle to keep up with the ever changing cyber world. Each day members of the public are voicing their opinions online, many of which reflect negatively on another party. For example, bad restaurant and hotel reviews, complaining about employers, and negative statements about products, are all things which we find on the internet everyday. However, most people are completely oblivious to the consequences of these statements, and simply assume that the rules are different when publishing on the internet, rather than more traditional media such as newspapers and magazines.

As a result of this increase in social media ‘attacks’ there has similarly been a rise in defamation claims, which are no longer just based on what was on the TV or in the newspaper. These days defamation claims include quotes from websites, tweets, posts and comments that reflect negatively and cause damage to an individual or business and are forming major parts of complaints. Being aware of how common online activities can get you into trouble can help reduce the risk of legal consequences.  Below are some examples:


Risky behaviour

Ways to keep out of trouble

What can go wrong

Setting up a social networking page specifically designed to encourage negative comments, you could end up being accused of defamation. 

Although offline gossip about an individual between a couple of friends may be harmless, online comments can have an unexpected impact. Avoid derogatory comments about specific people or organisations.

A Victorian man was sued for defamation when he made comments about a family on his ‘private’ Facebook page which were seen by friends and forwarded to the family.

Posting negative comments or posts on blogs about products, services or businesses can lead to court cases against you.

While some companies encourage comment on their brand or product. You should think twice before making claims about a product or service that may be defamatory.

A man was sued for $30,000 in damages and costs after using a pseudonym to post defamatory comments about a Perth business and its chairman.

Posting pictures of yourself doing illegal activities or ones which reflect negatively on you, while wearing your work uniform can result in your dismissal and defamation claims.

Avoid posting compromising photos of yourself on the internet and especially avoid having any form of your employment represented in your photos or social media site. Your negative actions can damage your entire business’s reputation.

Not only will you almost undoubtedly be fired from your work (because social media pages are rarely a private thing) but you may also face defamation charges.


If you feel like you have been the subject of defamation or have had a an unfair defamation claim made against you, please contact the experienced team of lawyers here at The Quinn Group. We can assist with any of your legal matters. For more information on defamation and how your social networking might be putting you at risk submit an online enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9166 to book an appointment.