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Suing social media bullies and trolls for defamation

Suing social media bullies and trolls for defamation

Has someone ever written anything bad about you online? Was it so bad that you feel it damaged your reputation or hurt your business? If so, the information in this article can help you.

There are all sorts of people in this world. Some have good, kind spirits while others only seek to hurt and ridicule. Social media is the perfect platform for this latter category of people. They can rant, shame and disparage people freely, most of the time without having to face any consequences. These comments can do real damage to a person’s reputation and general wellbeing. If this has happened to you, there are things you can do.

The first thing you need to know is that the law of defamation in NSW allows you to sue someone if they have attacked you online with untrue and defamatory statements. Generally speaking, you may have a case to demand an apology and compensation if:

  • someone makes comments about you that are defamatory. Defamation is the spreading and/or saying of something that isn’t true that damages a person’s reputation or a business’s brand, whether it is verbal or written
  • the comments are made to an audience
  • the comments damage your reputation among the group

If all three of these things occur, you may have a case to sue for defamation. Winning the case depends on evidence you’ve collected. The very best evidence occurs in the heat of the moment. Whilst it is difficult to think clearly at this time, keeping good records will maximise your chances of success. Here’s the steps you should take:

  1. Take a screenshot of all the comments made and save them. Note down the time and date of each comment
  2. Make a note of who can see the comment (i.e. the audience). Was it made to a particular group on Facebook? Was it a public post or just your friends?
  3. Think carefully about the comment and why bothers you. Write this down. For example, ‘This comment was made to all of my customers and it’s untrue. I’m worried it will affect sales.
  4. If someone alerts you to the post, write down who told you, when they told you and what they said. For example, someone calls you to tell you they heard about the post. Write down what they said. Alternatively, they may text you telling you they saw the post. Make sure you save a copy of the text

This information is critical for the next step; to issue a concerns notice. A concerns notice sets out what the comment actually was and why it was defamatory. It also demands an apology, withdrawal of the comment and compensation.

We hope you found the information in this article valuable but keep in mind it is no substitute for legal advice. If you need further legal assistance with your defamation case please contact us at Know the Law. We have a good network of lawyers who can help you should you need it.
More helpful articles and resources

1. How to stop people defaming you

2. General information about defamation law