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Can I sure for defamation of character for an internet posting on social media? Someone posted on a forum (within a social...

Houston, TX |

media network with over 6,000+ members reaching from Alaska to New York) that I sent email/text message threats to multiple people and wishing them harm and threats to a child. Which were absolutely FALSE and they refused to provide proof showing that I supposedly made those statements when I asked. The same person posted "I hope you liked that f***ing job in HR cause I'm going to see to it that you don't have it for much longer. Bet (my company, who's main mission is children) wouldn't be too keen on making threats and talking s**t about a child would they." Then the child's mother said "i would be down to beat the s**t out of her for making threats against my daughter..." I never made any threats against anyone especially a child. Do I have a case? Even in small claims?

Correction... SUE not SURE*

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Attorney answers 3


It is unfortunate that these types of character assassinations go on the web everyday. Yes, you do have recourse to you.

I would first suggest that you contact the web site through customer service and ask them to take down those particular messages as a violation (hopefully) of the site's TOS. I say hopefully because most social media sites do have some sort of courtesy clause in their TOS. On the other hand, their TOS probably also says they have a right but not a duty to get envolved in this.

If after trying the customer service route you do not het the post taken down it will be much harder.

I often say as cocktail chatter that there is no gravity on the Internet, what goes up does not come down.

That having been said, I have worked for dozens of clients to get information removed or search engine de-listed. I would say the success rate for these kinds of actions among Internet attorneys is around 70% and that the cost is from $1,000 to $1,500. It all depends on the circumstances.

If you know who the poster is, another avenue many clients take is to have a lawyer write a cease and desist letter to the person. While a cease and desist letter has little legal effect, it will tell the poster he could get in legal hot water which will cost him a lot of legal fees if nothing else.

You may want to discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo, including myself, offer a free phone consultation
Andrew M. Jaffe
Attorney at Law
Practice Limited to E-Commerce and Internet Law

This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.


Yes, it's possible that you have a case. It's also possible, depending on the nature of the social network, it's popularity, and a number of other factors, that it would create a "Streisand effect" (look it up on Wikipedia) to do so. You might, as Attorney Jaffe notes, have better luck asking the network to take down the content, but they may have their own reasons for not wanting to get involved. 6,000 members is pretty small for a social network; you'll have to consider how relevant that network is to your job, and whether getting the content deleted is going to anger the person involved. Given the threat against you, you may have potential recourse. You'll want to talk to a Texas attorney, and if you feel threatened you should contact the police as well as an attorney for a restraining order. A defamation case may be the end result, but you should understand that this kind of litigation is expensive and you may end up spending thousands simply to get an internet post removed -- assuming you prevail.

Best of luck.

I focus my practice on (video) gaming industry, casino gambling, and complex internet law issues, electronic free speech, entertainment law, copyright and trademark law, and computer fraud. I primarily represent game developers and founders of emergent internet technologies. The author is a Maryland attorney; however no answer given on Avvo is intended as legal advice or intended to create an attorney-client relationship.


To underscore Daniel's point, if you feel threatened by this individual it might be wise to contact law enforcement and, if necessary, seek a restraining order against this individual. Not knowing the individual or your relationship with them, it is difficult to say what the exact course of action should be, but I prefer to err on the side of caution.