The brave new frontier for the law of defamation today is definitely social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and – yes – blogs too. The last couple of years have seen claims for defamation (libel) move from the traditional print and broadcast media to the Web 2.0, starting with Facebook. By way of background – in case you’re not one of its 500 million users – Facebook is a social networking site that allows members to create personal profiles which are accessible to other Facebook members who they have accepted as “friends” and to create groups that others can join.
Finkle v. Facebook (County of New York, docket 107578-09, discussed by the Citizen Media Law Project is not the first Facebook defamation claim – that honour appears to go to the English decision in Applause Store Productions Ltd. and Firsht v. Raphael,  EWHC 1781 (QB), but Finkle seems to be the first in which Facebook itself was named as a defendant. The case arose after several of Finkle’s high school classmates set up a Facebook group called “90 cents short of a dollar” that, according to the complaint, portrayed her as “a woman of dubious morals, dubious sexual character, having engaged in bestiality, an 'IV drug user' as well as having contracted the H.I.V. virus and AIDS.”
While Canada does not have legislation equivalent to the US Communications Decency Act, one might expect a social media website to assert the defence of innocent dissemination if it is named as a defendant here.
This blog is authored by members of the Litigation and Dispute Resolution Department. We follow new and interesting issues emerging in the legal and business communities. The wide range of experience among the members of our litigation group will provide a diverse and insightful examination of current legal trends and topics. Our goal is to provide a source of valuable information and insight on a wide variety of matters for our readers.