Social Media Libel Cases on the Rise in the U.K.

By Sarah Klein

Be mindful of what you tweet, you may end up in court.

According to new data released from UK-based law firm Sweet and Maxwell, the number of social media-related libel cases is on the rise. While still low, the number of cases in the UK jumped from three in 2008-09 to seven in 2009-10.

“The rise in defamation cases linked to the internet is inevitable if Internet users like bloggers or tweeters fail to put in place the same kind of pre-publication controls that traditional media uses,” said Korieh Duodu, a lawyer at the law firm, in a statement to Silicon.com.

Once defamatory content is posted on such sites, it’s hard to have it completely removed. Users can quickly retweet the message to their followers, potentially reaching tens of thousands of people in mere minutes.

Social media experts suggest enlisting the help of a digital monitoring service to inform you when your name has appeared online. An easy (and free) suggestion is Google Alerts. Signing up will alert you when someone has mentioned your name.

While defamation causes for words spewed online remain relatively low for the general public, celebrities and sports stars filed 11 cases in 2008-09, and 30 in 2009-10, according to Sweet and Maxwell.

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