Defamation online in reviews posted by readers and comments stated in social media platforms throughout the United States and across its borders, raise legal questions. The aspects of posts in general also raise the issues of responsibility an individual has in controlling the content of one’s Facebook page or blog. The Communication Decency Act, Section 230 was intended to protect readers from objectionable communications and to also shield platforms from the effects that third-party posts could have on other readers who may find posted content objectionable and defamatory. The problem that arises for many who are actively posting and commenting on their own blog, Facebook page and what not, is that if they are actively engaged in a conversation where defamatory contact is posted, they may be deemed responsible for the defamation to have occurred on their site. This may be so when the statement that could have been deleted within a reasonable time of its posting was not deleted by its owner.
Commenting on the quality of a service or product and the republication of a video, a restatement of a defamatory comment or a publication of link that leads to defamatory content raises different legal issues. For instance, with regard to latter scenario, the publication of a link does not republish the content that is defamatory making someone liable. The publishing of the link only shows the online location where the content resides. The search engine, then upon the user’s selection of the link, will retrieve the site selected by the link.
On the other hand, republishing online a defamatory online video or statement triggers jurisdictional questions regarding the requisite contact to establish jurisdiction. By virtue of a user going online on a particular website the requisite connotation of minimum contacts is not met for jurisdictional purposes. There is a lack of geographic positioning to the act itself. That is one of the complications of online communications where a user’s location may be different than the location of the server and certain protections may not be afforded.
Furthermore, the manner in which the content is presented, either through a blog, a generic site or just a social media page, may be rendered an opinion and not considered defamation. The lack of formality of the content stated could also be deemed as lacking facts and affirmative statements which will appeal more to being an expression of opinion than rising to the level of defamation. When posting or engaging in sharing of information online, the user should be mindful of these considerations in order to avoid a defamation claim. The subject of an online statement should also be noteworthy of the jurisdictional element present in Internet communications via blogs and social media platforms where the subject may be addressing a location. Indeed the questions raised by defamation online and the resulting claims have several considerations for the user or the subject of the posted statement or media.