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I’m going to open up a whole family sized can of worms here and I know it, has that ever stopped me before? Nah…
We all spend a great deal of time on Facebook, we mill around in all sorts of groups, chats, discussions and forums and we type pretty much whatever we feel like typing, regardless of what it looks like. That, under the laws of the United States of America, and most other countries too, can become problematic.
“A 1964 case, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, however, radically changed the nature of libel law in the United States by establishing that public officials could win a suit for libel only when they could prove the media outlet in question knew either that the information was wholly and patently false or that it was published “with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not”. Later Supreme Court cases barred strict liability for libel and forbid libel claims for statements that are so ridiculous as to be patently false. Recent cases have added precedent on defamation law and the Internet.” 
“Defamation law in the United States is much less plaintiff-friendly than its counterparts in European and the Commonwealth countries, due to the enforcement of the First Amendment. One very important distinction today is that European and Commonwealth jurisdictions adhere to a theory that every publication of a defamation gives rise to a separate claim, so that a defamation on the Internet could be sued on in any country in which it was read, while American law only allows one claim for the primary publication.” 
Now, you might be thinking “Oh, but that doesn’t matter because of the First Amendment” (in the United States)
“Freedom of expression is recognized as a human right under article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 19 of the UDHR states that “everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice”. The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries “special duties and responsibilities” and may “therefore be subject to certain restrictions” when necessary “[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others” or “[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals.
Freedom of speech and expression, therefore, may not be recognized as being absolute, and common limitations to freedom of speech relate to libel, slander, obscenity, pornography, sedition, incitement, fighting words, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, food labelling, non-disclosure agreements, the right to privacy, the right to be forgotten, public security, and perjury. Justifications for such include the harm principle, proposed by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty, which suggests that: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.” 
Noun [C or U] UK /ˈlaɪ.bəl/ US /ˈlaɪ.bəl/
A piece of writing that contains bad and false things about a person:
What is Libel?
“Libel is a common law tort, governed by state law, in which an individual makes a written “publication” of a defamatory statement of and concerning the plaintiff that damages the reputation of the plaintiff.
What are the elements of a cause of action for libel?
The elements of a libel suit are:
- A defamatory statement;
- Published to a third party;
- Which the speaker knew or should have known was false;
- That causes injury to the subject of the communication” 
Keyboard Warriors are nicknamed that because they either can’t, or won’t, step up and represent themselves in person, in real life situations – that could result in Slander, or worse right? No, they take advantage of the fact that they believe there is anonymity on their side of the monitor, this is not the case. Internet servers and social media are, in particular, starting to pay much closer attention to the rights of people to remain free of harassment and “injurious behaviour” on the internet, indeed, even Facebook – following the “secret Facebook group Drugs and Guns for sale” fiasco, has vowed to work much more closely with law enforcement bodies now. Naturally there is, and will continue to be, a follow the leader effect. Pretty much every country and most states in the U.S. now have laws against “social media” bullying which makes it a felony.
The times, dear reader, they are a changin’ and the people who refuse to recognise that and whom continue on their merry way posting messages without thought to public arenas, or even semi-private ones, are going to find it getting increasingly uncomfortable and even legally uncomfortable in order to enjoy their so-called “Freedom of Speech”
As I’ve said before, with Freedom of Speech comes with responsibility, you can’t have one without the other.
You might be thinking that, “Hey, everybody knows what Facebook is, everybody knows what the internet is… if you don’t like it, turn it off…!” – DOESN’T WASH…
The “Internet” belongs to everyone who pays a fee to use it. The internet is a public construct and service, as such, and despite arguments to the contrary, a place where all users have the expectation to go about their business free from harassment and harm – EXACTLY the same thing as the rest of society and for the same reasons we have laws against criminal behaviour that govern society there are, and will increasingly be, laws of criminal conduct on the internet… so, all I can suggest is suck it in and get with the real world.
Copyright TB, 2018
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