Online defamation court cases double in the space of a year
The number of court cases brought by people who say they have been defamed online has more than doubled in a year, as social networks become prime ground for the spread of defamatory information.
The growing use of social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook are thought to be the main cause of the surge after a year which saw internet-related libel cases in England and Wales rise from seven to 16.
The singer Courtney Love is among those who have fallen foul of online defamation laws. She is being sued for a second time for posting defamatory statements on Twitter.
Ms Love paid $430,000 (£263,000) to settle a lawsuit brought against her by the designer Dawn Simonrangkir in March after calling her a "nasty lying hosebag thief" on Twitter in a dispute over money. She is now being sued again after making allegedly libellous statements about the law firm that used to represent her, also on Twitter.
The new figures, drawn from the legal information provider Sweet and Maxwell's Lawtel and Westlaw UK services, have led to calls for more accountability for what people write online. The barrister Korieh Duodu, a media specialist with Addleshaw Goddard, said a good deal of material on the internet is written by non-professionals without any of the fact-checking in traditional media organisations.
"There is certainly a need for greater accountability of the providers of user-generated content," he said.
Mr Duodu said the growth of social media networks and the way they are used was a big factor in the rise. He said: "Social media tools have over a billion users worldwide and are growing rapidly in popularity. Nevertheless, they can present a huge problem for individuals and corporates trying to protect reputations from harmful user-generated content." He added: "People who find themselves damaged on social media sites can find it time-consuming and difficult to have the offending material removed, because many platform providers do not accept responsibility for their users' content."
The UK Government is looking to reform the law with a draft Defamation Bill, currently going through Westminster, which ministers say will help to ensure that people can state honest opinions on the internet with confidence.
Zayn Malik gives first interview since quitting One Direction: 'I've never felt more in control of my life'
Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
Patrick S: Who was Germanwings captain on crashed flight 9525?
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits - see advert: Ashdown Group: .N...
£25 - 30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an exceptional 3D Package Designer / 3...
£Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a strong Middleweight / Senior Inte...