Be Careful What you Accuse Other People of Doing

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 18th Nov 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Law

The publication of a statement which may impugn another persons reputation or is intended to lower their esteem in the eyes of right-thinking people can be adjudged to be defamatory. Writers must be careful of every accusation that they make.

A News Hungry Public

The truth is that people love scandal, especially if it involves the alleged wrongdoings of a famous person, and usually the more famous the more juicy the scandal. If it involves an A-list celebrity, a famous singer, a TV presenter, or a high ranking politician being linked to a wrong doing then you can be sure that people will eat it up as long as you can feed this so-called news to them they will eat it up and beg for more.

Newspapers love scandal because it sells copy and advertising and in truth every time they publish such a scandal they do so knowing how much they are likely to make by carrying the story (value A) and what is the risk of being sued for defamation and how much they are likely to pay in settling a law suit (value B). This should not need to be said, but a large part of the publication meeting concerning this article will be based on whether value B is greater than value A, because if it is then they will publish almost every time.

Most Internet publications do not have either the income or defence budget that the newspapers that publish scandals do.

Defamation

Defamation is legally defined as:

    The publication of a statement which reflects on a person's reputation and tends to lower them in the esteem of right thinking members of society generally or tends to make them shun or avoid that individual

This definition is courtesy of Winfield & Jolowicz on Tort.

Basically every writer must be very careful when making any statement about any other person, whether or not the allegation you are making is true they may be able to take action against you or the site that you write for and for many sites the law suit could be enough to bring its existence to an abrupt end,

"X is a Paedophile

Paedophilia allegations made these days are to a large extent the equivalent of the sex scandals of the 1980s and 90s, and to a large extent worse because most people assume this to be a hidden secret that can impact a large percentage of the population, including close friends, and of course all "right minded" people are disgusted by the actions of the alleged abuser, and of course they have every right to be horrified, as is this writer, but it does not mean you can simply go ahead an publish such allegations on Wikinut.

Remember this just because you suspect someone of a despicable act does not mean that they have performed it, and even if they have done, it does not necessarily give you a defence if you publish that allegation on any public forum, such as here on Wikinut. Even if it does provide a defence the net result of any legal action the defamed person may take could close the site, so writers have to think and act reasonably in order to protect the sites they write for.

Of course we all want such people uncovered and statements that you may give police in suspicion of a person cannot be repeated in any publication, it may be true to the best of your knowledge but that does not make it fact, nor does it become publishable, it remains an allegation. If you have evidence such as video tapes evidence or photographs in the case of paedophilia these also cannot be published because in many countries the act of publication is also breaking the law and could leave the person publishing them with a spell in prison.

Cyber Libel

Cyber-libel is becoming more common, generally in the past, only rich or famous people had libel and slander issues today this is stretching to almost anyone, the common person, for example, a disgruntled consumer, an angry ex-spouse, or anyone can publish anything they like about anyone they care to mention and do it on the Internet without even thinking about it. Blogs, Tweets, Facebook posts can all defame and anyone can now “vent” their frustrations cheaply and easily for the whole world to see.

A Google search of anyone's name can potentially reveal the darkest, deepest, most poisonous words for anyone that is interested in reading, but the flip side to this is that few people actually read them, yet the mere accusation can stop that person from landing a job that they may be the best candidate for, let us be very clear harm to reputation and character is very real indeed and sites like Wikinut can be unwittingly used to spread such malicious gossip. This may also be a case of Cyber harassment.

All writers have consider very carefully when making allegations about other people.

Image Credits

The images used within this article have been taken from the following sources:

  • News Hungry by Seattlegeekly.net
  • Fair libel law by techcrunch.com
  • Child Abuse by fpnotebook.com
  • Are you liable by dianewordsmith.com

Other recent articles

The following are some of the more recent articles that Peter Giblett has published:

Each person has a unique voice and Wikinut is great a place for you to share some of your wisdom, insight and knowledge, you could start by adding a comment, but perhaps you need something more in which case should join Wikinut, write then become connected to others who share a passion for writing, supporting one another, and learning on Wikinut.

Tags

Accuse, Actor, Cyber Harrassment, Cyber Libel, Defamation, Famous Person, Hidden Secret, Making Any Statement, Politician, Reputation, Scandal, Singer, Very Careful

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
19th Nov 2014 (#)

Peter, I almost always try to take the middle of the road and write light hearted articles. I know that news articles are very good to write about but just as you've said you have to be very careful.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
19th Nov 2014 (#)

Nancy, this is not so much about taking the middle road - it is still possible to have strong opinions without defaming anyone and tearing a strip of a politician's political stance is not defamation.

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author avatar Ptrikha
19th Nov 2014 (#)

Indeed, at times, there is a tendency, especially among media to make things look as if a person is guilty when he or she may or may not be so, and such publicity could even impact the final verdict if the case is in a court, as well as public anger against that person.
So, indeed, we have to be very careful.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
19th Nov 2014 (#)

An sir, there are many on-line writers that see themselves in the place of the media and are prepared to make allegations in their work.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
19th Nov 2014 (#)

Praise is always welcomed but allegation of any nature can invite trouble. I highlight general ills in society but never accuse anyone in particular. Needed highlight, thanks Peter as some can go overboard without thinking of the consequences - siva

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
19th Nov 2014 (#)

Siva, highlighting general or specific problems in society is in my view open territory for all writers and something people should be encouraged to critique more.

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author avatar tafmona
19th Nov 2014 (#)

I like the insights in this post, keep writing good friend

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
20th Nov 2014 (#)

Awesome and interesting post!

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author avatar pohtiongho
22nd Nov 2014 (#)

Peter: Thanks for your comments. I am one of those who write using my real name and I am willing to face the music if others want to sue me. But I have not gone into detailed description and only those guilty guys are hurt by my words.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
10th Dec 2014 (#)

I too write with my real name but also try to avoid making accusations.

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author avatar puncakceria
10th Dec 2014 (#)

Informative article. Thank you for sharing this.

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