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Have You Ever Defamed Someone?

Defamation laws in Scotland are woefully out of date. Find out which day-to-day activities could land you in hot water!

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  1. Sending a private text message to someone else accusing them of something?

    "Hey, landlord! Where's my deposit? Has it gone to your villa in Spain?" Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    realitytvgifs.tumblr.com

    "Hey, landlord! Where's my deposit? Has it gone to your villa in Spain?"

    Yes, risky business
    No, should be safe
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Just you and me

    If you've communicated with someone else with an accusation they deem to be defamatory they could sue you, even if no one else has seen it. Scottish defamation law does not require third-party communication for a defamation claim. If defamation laws are there to protect your reputation, how can your reputation be damaged if no one else is aware of the damaging statement?

  2. Posting a negative review of a hotel/restaurant online?

    "Never eat here. Apparently they have found an ingenious way of saving money on food: just reheat leftovers from other customers!" Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    ekthomas23.tumblr.com

    "Never eat here. Apparently they have found an ingenious way of saving money on food: just reheat leftovers from other customers!"

    Yes, get your chequebook out
    No, you have nothing on me
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Constructive Feedback

    If you’ve posted a negative review online that cannot be proved, you could be sued. In fact, it is more likely that the website itself will be forced to take it down or face a court action – for a comment they had no control over! This includes sites including Mumsnet, Trip Advisor and Which? There are hundreds of websites that ask for reviews and other forms of user generated content – if this opened up the possibility of legal action, it could drastically undermine the principles at the heart of the Internet, as a participatory network that champions the voices and opinions of its users, not just the wealthy or powerful.

  3. Tweeting a rumour you've heard to your followers?

    "I don't trust @nikwilliams2. I hear he throws nuclear waste into the Clyde every year for his birthday." Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    webchutney.pk

    "I don't trust @nikwilliams2. I hear he throws nuclear waste into the Clyde every year for his birthday."

    Yes, skating on thin ice
    No, standing on firm ground
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    The Rumour Mill

    If you’ve ever tweeted something you don’t have evidence for, however trivial or satirical, the person you’re tweeting about could sue you. While it is important that people can protect their reputation online, it is vital that legislation is up-to-date to accurately reflect social media and other new technologies, to ensure all powers are proportionate and continue to protect free expression.

  4. Moderating a Facebook group?

    For example, "Foodies of Aberdeenshire" Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    media.giphy.com

    For example, "Foodies of Aberdeenshire"

    Yes, flirting with danger
    No, you are safe
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Your selfless action could get you into trouble.

    If you're a moderator for a Facebook group, guess what? Yes, you could be sued for something someone else posts on the Facebook group. Even if you did not post anything, your role as moderator may be enough to make you responsible. This is what happens when you depend on legislation that was last amended prior to the invention of both twitter and Facebook and when the internet only had 10 million active users. This has changed significantly, so why shouldn’t Scotland’s defamation laws be updated as well?

  5. Blogging about important issues?

    "Why Mr Bean MP is a corrupt front for a shady gangland empire" or "Stop buying Tim's Jeans their dyes are tested on animals" Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    media.giphy.com

    "Why Mr Bean MP is a corrupt front for a shady gangland empire" or "Stop buying Tim's Jeans their dyes are tested on animals"

    Yes, warn your lawyer
    No, you're ok
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    You may need to tell a lawyer what you think, too.

    If you blog about anything that affects anyone else at all, or reflects your engagement with the world around you, you could be sued for defamation. Without robust protections ensuring all powers are proportionate, defamation laws can continue to be used to silence community voices and stamp out civic debate. It is vital for a healthy democracy that civil society has ways to contribute to the national and international dialogue on key issues facing their communities and everyday lives.

  6. RTing or sharing a link?

    "RT: You'll never believe this meeting really happened! bit.ly/postman-pat-tax-scandal" Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
    gifbay.com

    "RT: You'll never believe this meeting really happened! bit.ly/postman-pat-tax-scandal"

    Yes, danger zone
    No, you have nothing to worry about
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Reading (or not reading) what you share doesn't keep you safe.

    If you’ve ever shared or retweeted a link to an article, not only could you be sued for the content in that article, but the person who wrote the article could be sued too. By sharing a link, current defamation legislation states that that article is ‘re-published’, which starts the clock on the window of time allowed for a defamation suit to be brought forward, ensuring that, in principle, culpability for defamation action can continue ad-infinitum. This is yet another example for the need to reform defamation law. We need laws that reflect our digital age, not laws that throw back to a point in history that is no longer relevant.

Have You Ever Defamed Someone?

Eeeeh... might want to read up on your defamation knowledge!

Please note: This is not a legal document and the situations are fictional cases created for campaigning purposes.

Eeeeh... might want to read up on your defamation knowledge! Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
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Phew! You know lots about what can land you in court.

Please note: This is not a legal document and the situations are fictional cases created for campaigning purposes.

Phew! You know lots about what can land you in court. Tap to play GIF Tap to play GIF
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