Editor’s Note: Poynter will be at South by Southwest, the annual music, movie and interactive festival, March 7-16, in Austin, Texas. Look for our Poynter faculty members, Roy Peter Clark, Ellyn Angelotti and Kelly McBride, and digital media reporter Sam Kirkland. Here is the second in a series of posts on what we’ll be doing at SXSW.
Tweets can form the basis of a defamation lawsuit the same as if they were published in another form. However, though Twitter has been around since March 2006, the first defamation trial involving the service wasn’t decided until earlier this year — almost eight years after Twitter’s debut.
Does that mean the Twittersphere has been immune from libelous content? Unfortunately, no.
The informal nature of social-media conversations makes Twitter a ripe environment for spreading potential falsehoods, resulting in plenty of opportunities for defamation claims.
Defamation is divided into libel (print) and slander (non-fixed medium), but both have essentially the same elements:
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