I recently spoke with the editor of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel about “twibel” and developments in defamation law pertaining to libelous statements disseminated via social media, blogs and other online platforms. The interview is available here: Twibel Hits The Courts: Defamation and The Internet.
Because technological developments have removed traditional obstacles to publication, the law will likely need to evolve to keep pace. Although traditional defamation law provides a road map of how to pursue lawsuits, “twibel” cases present unique circumstances. For example, since a defamation case cannot be based on a statement of opinion, it may be more difficult to win a defamation case based on a tweet or post. It’s going to be a challenge for the law to keep up with technology, but we often find that the law already has factors, balancing tests and other principles that work well, even in the face of new technologies.
Although it’s somewhat difficult to predict future developments in in this area, the trend seems to favor open access to platforms for public expression and minimal intervention by those who operate social media and other online platforms in the content of their users’ postings.