United Kingdom Links Social Networking to Rise in Online Libel Cases

Paul Lilly

Social networking is all fun and games until someone gets bent out of shape and hits back with lawsuit for libel. Courts in the United Kingdom processed more than twice as many online defamation cases in England and Wales from May 31, 2010 to May 31, 2011, as number of libel lawsuits rose from 7 to 16 during that one year period, according to U.K.'s BBC News.

Citing information obtained from legal information firm Sweet and Maxwell, BBC News reports social networking is to blame for the rise in online defamation lawsuits.

"People who find themselves damaged on social media sites can often find it time-consuming and difficult to have the offending material removed, because many platform providers do not accept responsibility for their users' content," Barrister Korieh Duodu, a media specialist with law firm Addleshaw Goddard, explained to BBC News.

It gets even more difficult when journalists tap into social media sites as sources for news stories.

"Such is the speed at which information travels through social networks that one unchecked comment can spread into the mainstream within minutes, which can cause irreparable damage to the subject who has been wronged."

Welcome to the Internet.

Image Credit: teefury.com (hogboy)

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