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Can you make Facebook remove slanderous posts?

Newark, NJ |

A relative of mine accuses my father of molesting her when she was a child in a post on Facebook. In the post, she includes a recent picture of him. The caption claims that he is a child molester and goes into detail about the molestation. My father is very upset and says that this isn't true.

Since I am the relatives Facebook friend, and not my father, I marked the post as "harassment" and got a response from Facebook saying that it does not violate Facebook's harassment policy. What policy does it violate? What are my father's options?

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

You have no standing to do anything. Facebook is a private entity and it can enforce or not enforce its own policy. Read their policy--it is not the law, it is their policy, so we can't tell you what it is. Their site should.

You have no standing to sue the person making the post either. The father would be the one with the cause of action. Truth is a defense to defamation. Therefore, if he were to sue, she would have the right to delve into every aspect of his life and conduct discovery to prove the truth of what she said. Even where it is actionable, the plaintiff has to show the court he suffered economic damages. Slander is spoken defamation. Libel is written defamation. This is not harassment either, she is not contacting him repeatedly without a legal basis. You can have a local attorney send her a cease and desist letter and see if she complies. Also, if she makes these statements as opinions as opposed to statements of fact, opinions are protected by the first amendment.

If your father does not mind having no privacy, and can show the court he suffered economic damages as a result of this, and she is not stating it as an opinion, he can sue her for defamation and false light.

We do not have an attorney-client relationship. I am not your lawyer. The statements I have made do not constitute legal advice. Any statements I have made are based upon the very limited facts you have presented, and under the premise that you will consult with a local attorney. This is not an attempt to solicit business. This disclaimer is in addition to any disclaimers that this website has made. I am only licensed in California.

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1 lawyer agrees

9 comments

Asker

Posted

Thanks. Would have marked this as "helpful" if it wasn't written so harshly.

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

I don't do this for "points". I've been practicing for 13 years, working with Fortune 500 companies. I do this as a service for

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

FREE to give back. What you see as "harshness" is honesty from someone who has no desire to receive money. I was telling you the law, if the law is harsh on this subject, it is not my doing. As most lawyers, I am direct and forthright. I don't make the law, I explain it. I'm donating my time for free to help. I'm not sure how I would have worded it to be less "harsh".

Asker

Posted

"[N]o standing to do anything," "no privacy"--very extreme language that is also a bit sardonic. But like I said, thank you.

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

"no standing" and "no privacy" are the legal terms associated with the causes of action implicated in your answer. Best of luck to your father.

Asker

Posted

I sent this correspondence to my sister and she made the following remark: "Yeah, she was pretty rude. Your question wasn't 'what can i do about Facebook'... its about 'what options does my father have in a legal sense to get this taken down. " Best of luck to you as well.

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

I answered the legal question. I charge $5000 retainer plus $400 an hour after that. No more free advice (for which you are not grateful). If you wish to converse with me further, you can pay me. End of free advice session.

Asker

Posted

Based on the nature of this discussion, I would not hire you.

Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Posted

I'm hired by Fortune 500 companies almost exclusively. So don't make me laugh. Like I said, END of free session. As you see, another lawyer agreed with my advice, which in great detail stated the legal options and how hard it will be. I stated the pros and cons so your father can decide if he wants to take this on. That's what a lawyer does. Oh, and noone else even bothered to answer your question. Being rude to a lawyer donating her time does not make other lawyers want to respond to your question.

Posted

Since you are not the subject of the post, you are unaffected by it, in a legal sense, and thus have no standing to take any action with respect to it. Your Father may or may not have standing - It depends upon the responsibility the law imposes upon the the service provider (Facebook). Again, your Father will have to prove damages to have any remedy.

The content of the this submission is intended to provide general information on the topic presented, and is offered with the understanding that the author is not rendering any legal or professional services or advice. This submission is not a substitute for legal advice. Should you require such services, retain competent legal counsel.

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