Twitter Defamation: Can Your Business Sue? - Free Enterprise
Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Twitter Defamation: Can Your Business Sue?

Can you sue for business damages if someone takes to Twitter or other social media sites and starts talking trash? Is there such a thing as twitter defamation?

A recent case involving Courtney Love and a small business sheds very interesting light on the subject. The case involving allegations of defamation against Courtney Love stems from posts she made about a small businesswoman.

Love made the insults on Twitter about Dawn Simorangkir and her small business. From Love's verified Twitter account, she unleashed a torrent of attacks on Simorangkir after they had a falling out.

In her tweets, Love called Simorangkir a drug-pushing prostitute, with a history of assault and battery, who lost custody of her own child, who capitalized on Love's fame and then stole from her. All in all, it makes for a very modern day defamation case. "There has never been anything like this case before," Simorangkir attorney Bryan Freedman told The Hollywood Reporter. The twitter defamation case is set to be the first-ever high-profile defamation trial involving Twitter.

Love's attorney, however, doesn't see it that way at all. "We don't believe there's any defamation, and even if there were defamatory statements, there was no damage," says James Janowitz, an attorney for Love. Not only does Janowitz not believe there is a case, he doesn't find the case especially noteworthy.

"It's not a groundbreaking case," he said, the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog reports. Love's comments while "graphic" and "colorful," he said, were "by and large not defamatory." And damages, he said, are nonexistent. "We had an opportunity to measure the plaintiff's business and how it was affected [by Love's comments,] and it wasn't," he said. "It's the old adage: there is no bad publicity, as long as they spell your name right."

A successful defamation case must prove that the statement in question was:

  • Published
  • Injurious
  • False
  • Unprivileged

In this case, Love's attorney seems to be confident that even if the content of the tweet was defamatory, there are no damages. Without damages, there is really no case.

Related Resources: