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Defamatory Facebook post

Discussion in 'Internet & Social Media Law' started by Laura Stockton, Aug 4, 2019.

  1. Laura Stockton

    Laura Stockton Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My father recently stopped at a house he passes everyday to talk to the homeowner about the railroad memorabilia displayed on this property. He walked to the door, knocked, stood for a few short minutes with his hands in his pockets, then walked back to his vehicle and left. The homeowner's security cameras picked this up, and the homeowner posted pic and video on his personal Facebook page as an attempted break-in. His post states that the man tried to open the locked front door and left when he heard someone inside. This was shared 125 times from the man's personal page and ended up on a local community page. We contacted the admins of community page, and they took the post down but refused to post a retraction or an apology. The homeowner refuses to take it down from his personal page. What recourse do we have? I am actually more concerned with community page, but still think you can't post pictures of someone and accuse them of criminal intent.
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    It is not illegal to share the video of what your father did. Whether any commentary along with the video is defamatory depends on exactly what was said. True factual statements and statements of opinion are not defamatory. Defamation is the communication to a third person of a false statement of fact about you that damages your reputation.

    As to the community page, they took it down and presumably nothing remains on the community site to see about this. It is probably best to just let that go. If your father makes a big deal about seeking a retraction he'll just bring even more attention of the community on it, which is probably not beneficial to him.

    Your father could sue the homeowner for defamation if the comments the homeowner put with the video are defamatory. He may seek both an injunction requiring the video be taken down as well as a judgment for money damages. He should see a civil litigation attorney about that. But again he'll want to consider whether the lawsuit might bring even more of a spot light on this than it would get if he just let it alone. That's something he can discuss with the lawyer he consults. Note, too, that unless there are significant damages to be won here the lawyer is not likely to take this on contingent fee. If your father has to pay the lawyer by the hour, the defamation lawsuit can get very expensive.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    We? This has nothing to do with you.

    Your father can contact Facebook to try and get the post taken down. This kind of crap happens on Facebook all the time.

    As far as defamation, your post didn't say whether anyone other than you and your father were able to identify him. Nor did you indicate that he suffered any actual damage as a result of this. Without a lot more information, this isn't even close to actionable defamation.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  4. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    In California actual (compensatory) damages would not be required to succeed in a defamation claim where the defamation alleges criminal activity.
     

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