Can you make Facebook remove slanderous posts?

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?

Newark, NJ -

Attorney Answers (2)

Michael T Warshaw

Michael T Warshaw

Business Attorney - Red Bank, NJ
Answered

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.

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Golnar Sargeant

Golnar Sargeant

Litigation Lawyer - Irvine, CA
Answered

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.

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