Tag Archives: Defamation Attorney

The Power of a Tweet

Though excellent tools for expression and brand marketing; a tweet can be a powerful method of expression. As the use of sites like Twitter and Facebook increase; it appears legal issues regarding what one posts are also on the rise. Laws and regulations about social networking are beginning to emerge as the legal system continues to see more cases involving defamation, fraud, and cyberbullying.

At a young age, many of us are often taught if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. This simple life lesson is often disregarded in the digital age and the results of a post could prompt one to seek legal advice. Based on your post, you might find yourself in front of a judge! Even if you delete the tweet, it is most likely someone has retweeted or shared it. Prior to making a post, consider if it may be defamatory to a third party. Also, the terms of us for the site because the information you disclose might not belong to you.

There have been several cases in the media about online defamation. One of the most sensational involved Courtney Love (Gordon & Holmes v. Love, No. BC462438), who tweeted an alleged defaming statement about one of her attorneys. The attorney responded with a lawsuit against Love. At trial, Love stated she intended to send a private direct message; but inadvertently tweeted the information. The jury ultimately found in favor of Love.

Fraudulent Twitter (and Facebook) account cases are becoming more prevalent as well. Celebrities, businesses, and even the average person can be the victims of a fake Twitter account. These accounts can create problems if the anonymous owner posts information that can be interpreted as misleading, controversial or libelous. Twitter currently is in the spotlight for trademark infringement because the Estate of James Dean wants ownership of the Twitter account @JamesDean. James Dean, Inc., et al v. Twitter, Inc., et al, No. 1:14-cv-00183, notice of removal (S.D. Ind., Feb. 7, 2014).

Cyberbullying has become a hot topic with Twitter and other social networking sites. The sites are used in an intrusive manner to expose private information or even fraudulent information about a person in an effort to cause humiliation or mental harm. Megan Meier and Ryan Halligan are perhaps the most famous cases of cyberbullying because each ended in tragedy. As recently as January 2014, cyberbullying via social media had been implicated in the attempted suicide of a rape victim in Maryville, Missouri. In State v. Bishop, a North Carolina teen became the first person in Alamance County to be convicted under the new state cyberbullying laws. The case is currently under appeal.

Not all situations with tweets involve defamation, fraud or cyberbullying. Tweets are now being used as tools for employers to screen potential employees or make personal changes. Earlier this year, a young advertising executive lost her job because of an inadvertent tweet she posted as a joke prior to boarding a flight to Africa. Unfortunately her employer did not find it funny and she lost her job before her flight even landed.

The power of the pen is not a new concept to society; yet we should exercise more caution with online posts because the ramifications might be more than you expected.

If you need additional information about the impact of social networking communication, please contact Attorney Mark Ishman at the Ishman Law Firm at (919) 468-3266 or mishman @ ishmanlaw.com.

Mark Ishman Summarizes Key Internet Law Cases of 2013 – ONLINE DEFAMATION

Throughout the year of 2013, there have been many noteworthy Internet Law cases.  Any attempt to summarize all of these Internet Law cases would be an epic accomplishment.  Rather then attempt such an astronomical task, Internet Law Attorney, Mark Ishman, has chosen a few Online Defamation cases of 2013, and has provided short summaries of them to explain how each of these cases have added clarity to Online Defamation Law.

  • Under the Online Defamation “Doctrine of Republication,” alleged defamatory material is not considered republished when a website changes the online advertisements on the web page where the alleged defamatory material is published, even if the purpose of making such ad changes was “to reach a new or broader audience.” As a result, the statute of limitations for an Online Defamation claim does not reset every time there is a new advertisement that appears on the web page where the alleged Internet Defamation material is published.  In other words, mere changes in the advertisements that appear on a web page where alleged Online Defamation material is published does not alter the substance or form of the alleged Online Defamation material, and the Online Defamation Single Publication Rule applies.  Solomon v Gannett Co., Inc., Case No. A-6160-11T4 (Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division 2013), available publicly at <http://law.justia.com/cases/new-jersey/appellate-division-unpublished/2013/a6160-11.html>, Churchill v. State, 378 New Jersey Superior Court 471, 481 (App. Div. 2005), Firth v. State, 775 N.E.2d 463, 466-67 (New York 2002); see also <http://www.ishmanlaw.com/internet-defamation-lawyer.php>.
  • Under the Online Defamation “Doctrine of Republication,” alleged defamatory material is not considered republished when someone provides merely a link to the web page where the alleged Online Defamation material is published.  A link alone does not restate the alleged Online Defamation material and thus does not republish the material.  The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a Pennsylvania Federal District Court decision, and reasoned that “if each link or technical change were an act of republication, the statute of limitations would be retriggered endlessly and its effectiveness essentially eliminated.”  In re Philadelphia Newspapers v. Vahan H. Gureghian, Case No. 11-3257, 2012 WL 3038578 (Third Circuit 2012), available publicly at <http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/113257p.pdf>; Salyer v. Southern Poverty Law Center, Inc., 701 F. Supp. 2d 912 (Western District of Kentucky 2009); Sundance Image Tech., Inc. v. Cone Editions Press, Ltd., No. 02-02258, 2007 WL 935703 (Southern District of California 2007); Churchill v. State of N.J., 876 A.2d 311 (New Jersey Super Court 2005); see also <http://www.ishmanlaw.com/internet-defamation-lawyer.php>.
  • Under California’s anti-SLAPP law, a tweet by an Internet Lawyer discussing the merits of his own pending case cannot be the basis for an actionable Online Defamation cause of action. Getfugu, Inc. v. Patton Boggs LLP, 2013 WL 4494952 (California Appellate Second District 2013), available publicly at <http://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B231794A.PDF>; see also <http://www.ishmanlaw.com/internet-defamation-lawyer.php>.
  • Under § 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a website operator may be deprived of immunity if it significantly alters third party content by editing it and actually changing the meaning of the edited content and thus participating in the content’s development. Such reasoning can be applied to almost any contributory claim associated with Online Defamation material.  For example, changing ads, providing a link to, or tweeting about, alleged Online Defamation material is actionable only if such new ads, link or tweet is accompanied with new false, misleading or deceptive content that adds to the development of the prior existing Online Defamation material.  Ascend Health Corp. v. Wells, Case No. 12-cv-00083, 2013 WL 1010589 (Eastern District of North Carolina, March 14, 2013), available publicly at <http://www.dmlp.org/threats/ascend-health-corp-v-wells>; see also <http://cyberlawattorney.com/2013/12/03/when-can-you-overcome-§-230-immunity-defense/>; see also <http://www.ishmanlaw.com/internet-defamation-lawyer.php>.

If you believe that your reputation or business has been damaged by content published on the Internet (web page, blog, review website, Yelp.com, complaint website, or RipOffReport.com), or have been wrongly accused of publishing online defamation material, please contact Online Defamation Attorney Mark Ishman at the Ishman Law Firm at (919) 468-3266 or mishman@ishmanlaw.com.