Mean Tweets - Defamatory
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Written on 19
Mean Tweets and Clean Hands: Extent of an Intermediaries
liability vis-ŕ-vis posts by Internet Trolls.
Providers and Intermediaries such as Twitter can safeguard
themselves from liability as a result of defamatory and potentially
libellous posts/comments made by its users, better known in Internet
parlance as ‘trolls’.
Twitter and similar intermediaries are protected by section 10 of the
Defamation Act 2013 (The Act), which protects a person or company
against a defamation action provided that they are “not the author,
editor of publisher of the statement unless the court is satisfied that
that it is not reasonably practicable for an action to be brought
against the author, editor or publisher."
Where the identity of the troll is known, Twitter and similar
providers can rely on section 5 of The Act as an alternative defence,
so long as they take steps such as removing the offending post within a
specified period of time or provide the complainant with details of the
poster. Where the complainant serves legal proceedings against the
poster, section 5 act as a complete defence, even if Twitter decides
not to take down the offending post.
Conversely, if the identity of the troll is unknown, Twitter
can still rely on a section 5 defence and can still maintain the
offensive post on the website, so long as the poster consents to be
identified to the complainant or the poster provides his/her details
including postal address to Twitter, which can be disclosed to the
complainant pursuant to Norwhich Pharmacal Order under CPR r.31.
Intermediaries can rely on other defences such as section 1 of
the Defamation Act 1996 and Regulation 19 of the E-Commerce Regulations
2002, which predate the Defamation Act 2013 and remain in force.
Twitter could seek to rely on these provisions instead of section 5 of
the new Act.
Written by Michael Coyle
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2014-09-22 09:13:46 in Legal Articles