How to identify a social media account holder?

Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors

If you have encountered social media defamation that has harmed your standing,either personally or professionally, then contact us immediately. Social media defamation contains a broad spectrum of issues and contributing factors, and so it is essential that you seek some expert help from solicitors with experience in this area, to help you understand your case and your likelihood of successful litigation.

Online Defamation - Social Media Platforms

Social media is having an increasing impact and role in our lives on a daily basis. With millions of users worldwide using websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more, it's hard to escape the grasp of social media. While social media is an excellent tool for sharing thoughts,ideas, and inspiration with people from around the world, there can also be a dark side, however - in the form of social media defamation.

Defamation is a serious crime, and can have wide-reaching consequences, so if it is something you have suffered then you should understand what your options are.

What is social media defamation?
The first step is to know what social media defamation actually is. Social media defamation can have a broad range of applications, but put simply it relates to a falsehood communicated by a third party that causes damage to your life, reputation, or standing. Defamation was previously broken down into two types - libel and slander with libel being the word to describe a written form of defamation, ie a direct message, a tweet, a comment, a photo, a sign, and more. Slander on the other hand, was the word used to describe verbal defamation.

Both are now simply referred to as Defamation in Ireland.

The fallout of social media defamation
Defamation has existed as a crime for decades, and predates the invention and rise of social media - so why is social media defamation now a rising issue?

It boils down to a matter of reach. You may be defamed on an online platform such as a comment section, a forum, or in an individual blog, and the reach can be substantial and worldwide in an instant.

Often defamation can be against a business and so it is not just a matter of social damage, it can also have a considerable impact on livelihood.

Many businesses now consider a "social media search" parfor the course when hiring new employees - defamation may directly damage your likelihood of being employed.

This is why it's essential that if you're the victim of social media defamation, that you consider legal action.

What to do if you have suffered from online defamation?
If you have been a victim of social media defamation, the first move is not always to start defamation proceedings. Instead you need to carry out some damage limitation and have the post removed online.

Contact needs to be made urgently with the social media platform or platforms that the post or comment is appearing in however we would recommend you also contact your solicitor immediately to issue a letter to the platform directly. The platforms only have an obligation to you when they have been "notified". It is therefore extremely important that you keep screenshots of all items ie the offending comments/ posts along with URL details and most importantly a screenshot of your notification to the platform.

In the cases of Facebook and Twitter, for example, their European headquarters are located in Ireland, and so online defamation related cases have become somewhat common here. Cosgrove Gaynard Solicitors were involved in one of the first such cases against major platforms in the supreme court some years ago and indeed we have had a number of cases since. We have helped many international clients solve their issues relating to social media defamation.

Before you think about litigation
While we will do everything we can to make the process of litigation and stress-free as possible for you, there's no avoiding the fact that litigation can become a costly and time-consuming process. Often a client can be happy to simply have a post removed early and if the reach is not too large they are happy for us to simply have been involved in that aspect.

However sometimes a client will want to look behind the identify of an account to find the source of the defamation. We can assist in doing so by obtaining a court order which has commonly become known as a Norwich Pharmacal order which directs a platform such as facebook, google or twitter to release details of the account holder ie email address and IP address.

Once the identity of the person is known you can then decide if you wish to take defamation proceedings.

Pursuing defamation proceedings against social media platforms

We are often asked if a platform can be pursued for defamation and the answer is yes, in certain circumstances.

As mentioned earlier, a platform's obligation only arises once it is notified. If they are notified and fail to act, then defamation proceedings are also a potential against the platform aswell as the account holder who made the original defamation comments.

Trusting our specialist team at Cosgrove Gaynard
If you have encountered social media defamation that has harmed your standing,either personally or professionally, then contact us immediately. Social media defamation contains a broad spectrum of issues and contributing factors, and so it is essential that you seek some expert help from solicitors with experience in this area, to help you understand your case and your likelihood of successful litigation.  

Should you be the victim of online defamation, please contact us immediately to assist you in understanding the options open to you to resolving the matter:

Email: info@cgsolicitors.ie Phone: 00353 (0) 1 2340044

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