New figures have revealed that the number of court cases filed over claims of online defamation have more than doubled in the space of just a year.
The statistics, which were gathered by the legal information provider Sweet and Maxwell’s Lawtel and Westlaw UK services, show that compared to the seven cases which went through the courts last year, this year there have been sixteen.
Amongst those making a claim for defamation was the singer Courtney Love, who was sued by the designer Dawn Simonrangkir after she made offensive remarks about her on Twitter following a dispute. Although it is not sure whether Love had the backing of professional indemnity insurance to cover the costs of the case, the former Hole frontwoman paid out more than £260,000 to settle the case.
This case illustrates how social networking sites can be a breeding ground for online defamation lawsuits, and concerns over this issue have led to calls for more accountability over what is posted online.
Barrister and media specialist Korieh Duodu commented on this, saying:
“Social media tools have over a billion users worldwide and are growing rapidly in popularity. Nevertheless, they can present a huge problem for individuals and corporates trying to protect reputations from harmful user-generated content.”