Even though significant parts of this article are inapplicable to the experience in England, where new threshold tests of seriousness of harm have been introduced to limit the scope for frivolous litigation, the conclusion of this article reflects advice that I give on a regular basis.
No-one should be deceived into thinking that just because they are making a throwaway comment on-line, they are not subject to the law. Sally Bercow, Alan Davies and countless others learnt this lesson the hard way, tweeting or re-tweeting the well-known but untrue allegations relating to Lord McAlpine a couple of years back.
No. If you are posting a comment on social media, it is as well to bear in mind that you are in publishing, not in a pub conversation, and to moderate your output accordingly.
Given all of this and more, “Discretion is the better part of valour,” should be one’s social media mantra moving forward. Online defamation law is no longer the bastion of the esoteric and online pioneers, it’s a growth area that will attract the usual sharks, profiteers, and those looking to authentically reclaim what they perceive to be a harm to their personal and professional brands.