Scottsdale, Arizona (PRWEB) January 17, 2014
Love, an outspoken rock star and widow to Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, tweeted back in 2010 that her lawyer, Rhonda Holmes, had been “bought off” after she declined to help Love in a legal battle over Cobain’s estate, as reported by ABC news.
The lawsuit hinges on whether or not the tweet should be considered “defamation,” a legal principle defined as an intentionally false statement meant to harm a person’s reputation.
To prove Love defamed her ex-lawyer, the prosecution must show the tweet contained a provable falsehood, not just an opinion, said Mark Ishman, an Internet law and online defamation attorney from the Ishman Law Firm, P.C.
“This can be difficult to prove for a plaintiff, because tweets are usually short statements or incomplete sentences often requiring innuendo to understand,” Ishman said.
The Internet is often considered a safe harbor for anonymous free speech, yet the last decade has shown an increasing trend in lawsuits, settlements and out-of-court disputes over what’s been printed online. Though people often think they’re writing anonymously, court orders can subpoena the IP addresses of where the comment was posted from and even the MAC addresses of specific computers.
The Virginia Court of Appeals recently unmasked seven Yelp reviewers who posted negative reviews about a carpet cleaning company. The court declared that the reviewers had no right to anonymity or the First Amendment, because they were not customers of the carpet cleaning company, the Washington Times reports.
Online reputation specialists like JW Maxx Solutions are informing the public that they are now held accountable for what they say online. “The First Amendment does not protect libel, character attacks and defamation,” JW Maxx Solutions’ Walter Halicki said.
“People have always been held accountable for what they say and print. Now they’re being held accountable for what they write on the Internet,” Halicki said.
In the age of consumer reviews and worldwide reach, a single negative post can have a long lasting impact on a person or business.
“When a person writes a negative review and broadcasts it to the entire world, they need to make sure that their statements are grounded in verifiable fact. Otherwise, they could face legal repercussions,” said Halicki.
Online reputation management companies like JW Maxx Solutions help clients rebuild and develop their web presence after falling victim to libelous or defamatory language.