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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Account Executive - Graduate / Entry Level

£22000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital advertising infras...

Guru Careers: PR Account Director / SAM

£50 - 60k (DOE) + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A PR Account Director / SAM ...

Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Insight Analyst

£32 - £37K + extensive benefits: Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Ins...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific