May 10, 2021

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Beware what you post on social media

many He takes us to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or WhatsApp to share our thoughts, opinions, or even what we eat for lunch. Some of us make comments about others, and don’t care whether the comments made are correct or incorrect. Whether it’s a video of a road rage accident or poor customer service, the need to share such experiences with others is easier with social media.

Despite this, this form of widely open, immediate, interactive, and largely uncensored communication can expose them to allegations of defamation. This article will provide a brief guide to the elements of defamation and what to avoid when using social media platforms.

Defamation in Malaysia

The governing law for civil defamation in Malaysia is the Defamation Act 1957 that allows a defamed person to sue a person who defamed him.

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The following three elements must be proven to prove a case for defamation: (1) The statement must be defamatory; (2) The statement must refer to the person who has been subjected to defamation; And (3) the statement must be released to a third party other than the person who was the subject of the defamation.

What amounts to a defamatory statement?

The essence of a defamatory statement is its effect on a person’s reputation. The phrases may be defamatory in their natural and ordinary sense. For example, spreading a false rumor about a person convicted of murder; Or when there are only meaningful hints to people with knowledge of private facts, for example, the statement that “Ben has been spending a lot of time with Ally” may not be defamatory in its normal and normal sense except for those who realize that Ben is married to Diana. .

Should the defamatory statement refer to the person’s name?

It is enough that ordinary people with knowledge of private facts understood and already did that the statement refers to the person whose reputation was damaged, even though the person’s name is not specifically mentioned in the statement.

What constitutes publication?

Since data cast on social media is instantly viewable online, it is considered published when viewed by any third party other than the deformed person.

How about reposting?

Retweeting, reposting or forwarding WhatsApp messages are common examples of reposting via social media. Once the defamatory statements are re-published, those responsible for the republication bear that responsibility equally in a defamation case.

What about third-party posts?

A third-party post refers to comments made by a third party about the defamatory statement, for example, comments left in a thread on Facebook. Here, a celebrity may sue a person who has the option to remove comments left by the third party but has not.

Who can be sued for defamation?

Anyone who published or caused the defamatory statement to be published can be charged with defamation. This includes anyone who falls within the rebuttal presumption in Section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950: “Any person whose name, picture, or pseudonym appears in any publication portraying himself as the owner, host, official, or editor, or otherwise facilitating The forms for publishing or re-publishing the post assumes that he has published or re-published the contents of the post, unless proven otherwise.

Are there any defenses for demanding defamation?

If the statement made is true, then the defense of justification will be applied in fact, and if the statement is an honest and neutral opinion or opinion on a matter of public interest, then this may lead to a defense of fair comment.

Claimants claim compensation for defamation?

In addition to seeking to withdraw the defamatory statement and public apology, plaintiffs may appear to be compensated or financially compensated. Actual damage caused due to defamation does not need to be proven. When assessing damages, the court will consider the following non-exhaustive list of factors: (1) The seriousness of the allegation; (2) Volume and influence of circulation; (3) Impact of publication; (4) The extent and nature of the claimant’s reputation; And (5) the conduct of both the defendant and the plaintiff.

You can never be too careful

Given the rebuttal presumption set forth in Section 114a, not only does the maker of the statement need to think before “sharing,” anyone who can be assumed to be the author or publisher should also be careful about the comments that have been made, especially when these comments stay on. Their social media account. A request letter could be on its way if care is not exercised.

This The article is by Nur Fathin Amira Sabawi by Christopher Lee Ong.