Defamation in the Internet Age |

Defamation in the Internet Age

Paula Puddy, HBA LLB MBA

Over 25 million Canadians access social media every day, with Facebook having the majority of visits, according to Statista’s dossier on Social Networking in Canada.

Given these statistics, has there been an upswing in defamation claims in Canada? My best guess is "yes".

In fact, a recent British survey concluded that in 2018 there was a 70% increase in defamation claims courts.

Certainly, the ability to share your thoughts publicly is easy, instantaneous and can be anonymous.

Michel Castillo’s presentation on defamation in the internet age reviews the law, numerous cases and their damage awards.

These defamation cases are very colourful!

  1. A doctor plaintiff allegedly prescribed addictive medication to a person without close supervision
  2. An accountant plaintiff allegedly engaged in tax fraud and being a thief and a cheat
  3. A business man (the uncle of the defendant) who was described as a terrorist and extortionist, and obsessed with becoming a millionaire
  4. A human rights lawyer who was described as corrupt, surreal, strange, and tried to manufacture phony-racism

The damages range from $10,000 in general damages to $700,000 in general, aggravated and punitive damages!

Of course, Michel reviews the law and what you have to prove to succeed.

You will likely recall the defences to defamation claims including the truth, fair comment, privilege and reasonable communication of matters of public interest (an evolving area of law relating to Ontario’s anti-SLAPP legislation cases and the Protection of Public Participation Act, 2015, S.O. 2015, c. 23 - Bill 52).

Michel’s final advice is not to avoid social media (he is an avid user of LinkedIn). As such, he suggestions:

  1. avoid commenting
  2. be mindful of comments
  3. attend or implement social media training

Michel concludes by saying:

"Like all things in law, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We have a great tool in social media, but it is not without its difficulties."

Watch the Video

What is your take?

If you are a solicitor, do you recommend certain clauses pertaining to social media? Feel free to contact me and share your opinion or knowledge.

What would you like to see more of?

At CPDonline we serve your learning needs. Is there a topic you would like to learn more about? Please contact me and if we have your topic in our library, I will send you a direct link. If not, we’ll add it to our training wishlist.

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