Defamation generally happens when a person intentionally harms an individual or a company by saying or writing something that is false. They present their false statement as a fact. They may do this to harm the reputation of the business, which can cost its stakeholders money. A defamation lawsuit seeks to put an end to the behavior and help the affected parties obtain damages.
There are two specific ways in which defamation classifications have traditionally been divided. If false information has been written down, then it would typically be treated as libel. But if the defamation consists of a statement made verbally or orally, then it is treated as slander.
The impact of technology on defamation classifications
In recent years, it has become a bit less clear when offensive conduct is slander and when it is libel. This is because of the progress of technology and the different ways in which information is transferred. For instance, people often claim that they “said” something on social media. They usually mean that they wrote that information out and posted it on the website. So is a false review on social media slander or libel? Is social media just a new way for people to converse or is it a new way for them to publish information?
Another gray area involves podcasting. Someone who is making a podcast is certainly making verbal claims. You can listen to a recording and hear defamation, which makes it seem like slander. But at the same time, a podcast is now just a new type of media. It is being recorded and published, so it is much different than a live radio show or something of this nature. Since it’s being published, does that mean that it is slander or libel?
Even within some of these areas of law, you will find new gray areas as technology changes. People can already post videos or write text on social media. Is the difference between slander and libel soon going to depend on what type of comment they made rather than the platform that they used?
These are all very important questions for people to consider as technology develops. As this area of law is developing rapidly, it’s important for individuals and businesses to understand their rights and options under the law in the event that they’re harmed as a result of any kind of defamation.