Rise in defamation cases ‘linked to social media disputes’

1 September 2020, 16:14

A person using a laptop
Rise in defamation cases ‘linked to social media disputes’. Picture: PA

One law firm said it has dealt with a 90% increase in defamation cases since since 2018, featuring all of the main social media platforms.

Disputes on social media have been blamed for sparking a rise in defamation cases brought before the courts.

The number of defamation lawsuits handled by the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court has almost trebled from 112 in 2016 to 323 last year, Ministry of Justice data shows.

According to one law firm, the increase is down to incidents taking place on social networks, with many people not realising the potential consequences of what they post.

JMW Solicitors said it has dealt with 90% more since 2018, featuring all of the main social media platforms.

Some of these were from businesses targeted by “demonstrably unfair” reviews and other online publications, as well as individuals who had been subject to smear and harassment campaigns on social media.

Laura Wilkinson, an associate solicitor for the firm, said in previous generations the majority of defamation disputes would have involved mainstream media, but now anyone on social media is “effectively a publisher”.

“In my opinion, there can be little doubt that social media users are fuelling the increase in defamation claims,” she said.

“Everyone with a social media account is now effectively a publisher, albeit without the kind of legal checks and controls which are integral to more traditional print and broadcast outlets.

“That means there is no filter to prevent defamatory comment making its way before a global audience in seconds, with all of the complications and problems that can create.”

Figures show that almost a third (96) of defamation claims last year were worth more than £50,000.

The number of cases involving damages demands between £15,000 and £50,000 has doubled since 2016, while the proportion in which the compensation sought was unspecified increased from 10 to 145 during the same period.

By Press Association

More Technology News

See more More Technology News

John McCarthy

‘Transformative’ effect of AI on Irish workforce examined by Government

Apple phone

Apple launches free Sports app for following live scores

Culture, Media and Sport Committee

BBC soaps can be made with AI in three to five years, MPs hear

A woman using a laptop computer

New online safety law may disappoint public without ‘tangible’ change, say MPs

Cyber attacks

Generative AI and elections are key focus for hackers in 2024, report warns

A mobile phone

Parents need to look at own phone ‘addiction’, says Children’s Commissioner

LockBit

Major ransomware site taken down in international law enforcement sting

Tinder dating app

Tinder brings ID verification to the UK

Scam ads

Social media platforms and search engines still littered with scam ads – Which?

A drone

Plan to ease rules on drones could help urgent medical deliveries

lockbit

Hacker website taken over by UK-led law enforcement operation

Suella Braverman

Tech giants ‘could severely disable UK spooks from stopping online harms’

Most influential Scots on TikTok

Jobs in Ireland at risk as TikTok to cut several hundred jobs globally

The type of emotion reading AI has not been specified.

Reverend's 'horror' as daughter to be interviewed by emotion-reading AI, as father blasts 'robots who decide employment'

Mobile phone study

Teachers get new guidance as ministers ‘ban’ mobile phones in schools

A shop sign for Virgin media

Virgin Media O2 announces plans to create BT Openreach rival