Beware: This Facebook tag could cost you thousands

Social media stock image. Picture: Berea Mail

Social media stock image. Picture: Berea Mail

Defamation cases are expensive and may have serious financial consequences.

Do you keep a careful eye on who tags you in Facebook posts?

You should, as failure to do so may render you liable for defamation. And this could cost you R40 000.

Defamation is the publishing of a statement that ruins someone’s reputation. Spreading gossip is one form of defamation.*

In August 2013, the North Gauteng High Court stated that not only the author of an improper post, but also those tagged in it, could be liable for unlawful defamation it contains.

This specific case involved three persons identified only as Mrs Isparta, Mrs Richter and Mr Oosthuizen – or I, R and O.

I and O were divorced at the time and caught up in a legal battle. R and O were a couple. R logged onto Facebook and badmouthed I in a post. She tagged O while she was at it. R was ordered to pay R40 000 in damages to I. Because O failed to untag himself, the court considered him just as liable as R.

Defamation cases are expensive and may have serious financial consequences for those accused of defaming. The legal fees involved in proving that a defendant is not liable could cost up to R100 000 or more – nobody wants to pay that kind of money for being tagged in someone else’s irresponsible social media post.

Even if a cost order is granted in a litigating party’s favour, he or she may still not fully recover the legal fees spent on litigation.

The best way to stay out of tagging trouble is to enable tag reviews. Here’s how:

Step 1: Log onto Facebook

Step 2: Navigate to “Settings” (on a PC, click on the arrow in the top right corner of your screen)

Step 3: Click on “Timeline and Tagging”

Step 4: Scroll down to “Review” and edit your tagging review settings

*Not all gossip or defamation is unlawful. Only defamation that cannot be justified will lead toward liability. Defences that may render defamation lawful include:

  • Proving that the defamatory statement is true and in the public interest
  • Proving that the defamatory statement was part of a balance court, parliament or tribunal report
  • Proving that the defamatory statement qualifies as fair comment
  • Proving that the publication of the defamatory statement was reasonable
  • Proving that it was made in jest

Read the original article on Alberton Record

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