Someone asserted the person that posted this was opening himself up to libel charges. Is s/he?

Get Legal Help Today

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Someone asserted the person that posted this was opening himself up to libel charges. Is s/he?

This was posted on a web forum with a smiley face atop the post’s title:”[name of another poster], my advice to you is to start making out with really drunk chicks and then just put their hands on your genitals. Eventually you’re bound to at least get a handjob out of the deal and possibly more. Of course, most of them will probably just be horrified and scarred for life, but that’s ok. Rumor has it that the [name of conference] writer endorses this tactic.”Is the last statement in that post a libelous one? Is a journalist considered a public figure and thus have to prove malice?

Asked on May 9, 2009 under Personal Injury, Minnesota

Answers:

LAR, Member CA State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

This situation as you present it, could border on libel to person and person's business reputation.  Unless this journalist actually makes his or her living from promoting what the author of the comment asserts, this is reckless and false, which would go a long way to proving libel for a private person.  Even if the journalist is a public figure, again, he or she would have to be making a living promoting what the author says or be someone who is known for making these kind of remarks.  As a public figure, the standard for libel is actual malice.  If the author posted this about a public figure, then the journalist would have to prove actual malice in publishing the remark.  A public figure is someone who purposefully injects him or herself into the public eye.  You can even be a public figure on a limited topic and a private person for other things.

Note that the smiley face atop this posting would not mitigate anything here, because the smiley face refers to the posting as a whole, and thereafter specifically targets this journalist with what could be an inappropriate comment even if the overall intent was humor.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption