It’s nice that we enjoy “Freedom of Speech”, but we are still responsible for our speech, and lawsuits are a reality when an individual must protect him/herself from abusive or inflammatory allegations.
Read a definition of Defamation:
- Defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm.
- Slander involves the making of defamatory statements by a transitory (non-fixed) representation, usually an oral (spoken) representation.
- Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a fixed or medium, such as a newspaper or blog post.
So, if you make derogatory statements that result in damage to someone’s reputation or subject them to contempt or ridicule, you could be exposed.
But, what about transparency?
That’s a big buzz word. That and authenticity. Yes, we have a right to our opinions and we now can express them to zillions with a couple key strokes. But, is writing or commenting around one’s character and professional capabilities being transparent & authentic, or is its intent to derail?
Social media doesn’t eliminate the responsibility we have to mind our words.
Post and comment thoughtfully
If someone suffers real damages as a direct result of your posts or comments, be it pecuniary or actual you may have opened a legal can of worms.
Subjective vs. fact
Disagreeing with a person and his/her point of view, even calling it short-sighted is subjective, an opinion. On the flip side, accusations of a deviant act, or abusing drugs or alcohol are points that can be proven untrue (if they are), are damaging and considered defamatory in nature. Legally, there are shades of gray and it’s a difficult case, but is the backlash worth it?
Yeah, I’m snarky. I know it. I need to consider my words. Particularly when crafting a response to someone who is getting uber personal, ugly or aggressive in their opinion of something I’ve written. But my intent is never irreparably damage someone’s life.
Not to mention, do you really want clients to find you indexed in that manner?
Is that the “real” you, or you in a single heated moment that will live on forever?