An increasing number of businesses in Townsville are seeking legal remedies for malicious or defamatory comments posted on social media, according to a Townsville lawyer Evan Sarinas of Sarinas Legal said businesses were fed up with vindictive and careless comments which they say financially impact their businesses.
“These businesses have devoted substantial time and money in building their reputations and brand, which are destroyed in seconds by outrageous and unsubstantiated comments by faceless bloggers.” Mr Sarinas Said.
Melbourne man was awarded $200,000 damages against Google.
“The influence of social media on consumer behavior is a powerful weapon in advertising and marketing but can also be vindictively misused.” Mr Sarinas said the fact that people could make comment anonymously or under assumed names made it difficult but did not always prevent corrective action.
“While customers and the public are entitled to have an opinion and often voice their experiences and concerns on social media, the difference with defamatory comments is they are made without any basis or foundation or they are made maliciously.” Mr Sarinas said. He Said legal remedies differed depending on each case.
He said a first step could be to issue a Concerns Notice (under the Defamation Act 2005)to the author saying defamatory comments had been made and outlining steps required to remedy the problem.
This could involve a formal letter issued through the social media platform, for example, a Concerns Notice in a Facebook message about an inappropriate Facebook post the author made. If this goes ignored or the person does not agree to the requests to correct or retract the statements. Mr Sarinas said businesses could then choose to commence proceedings in court.
“Should an unscrupulous author seek to remain hidden with a fake name, the social media platform could be forced to disclose the identity of the member,” he said. In some cases, the social media entity can be held liable but this often depends on the degree of control it has over the forum.
Last year, Melbourne man Milorad Trkulga was awarded $200,000 damages against Google because a search engine image associated him with gangland figure Tony Mokbel.
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