Week 10 Libel on the Internet can bring a civil suit

by Cristina Melchior

The first amendment — which guarantees the right of free speech — is at the core of all media law in the United States. However, people must have the right to protect themselves from defamation and injuries caused by errors or distortions in information disseminated by any medium. The rights of people are protected from both libel and slander defamation. Libel is the written or broadcast form of defamation. Slander is an untrue defamatory statement that is spoken orally. 

Besides public comments on newspapers or magazines, the most common places for making possibly libelous statements are blog posts and internet chat rooms.

Thinking about all variations of media is evaluating its content. It is thinking that the content will be shared with a large part of the world. The globalization of the internet does not allow media thinking  locally anymore. Bloggers should think themselves as having an important role in forming the opinion and instigating change. Bloggers face the same range of ethical issues the reporters face on a regular basis: truthfulness, conflicts of interest, and sensationalism. 

The Internet has seen by the courts in the United States as more like newspaper or magazine. Suing for libel brings a civil suit in a state court under the libel laws seeking for monetary damages for harm caused by the statement. 

Therefore, think twice before publishing something that could compromise someone without having concrete evidence. 

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