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5 Easy Ways to Get Sued Over Online Content & Social Media

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If you handle online content and/or social media, then you may think that there’s nothing that could happen to you – no matter what you do. 

While your right to free speech and opinion is still protected and viable in the online environment, you can still get sued if you’re not paying attention when writing or distributing content, for example.

This is also the main reason why companies/ businesses that wish to open an online branch often rely on a professional law firm internet marketing to help them make sure that they don’t violate any laws or do something that could get them sued.

Let’s now take a look at five of the easiest ways for you to get sued in the USA over social media and online content!

The Right of Publicity

This particular right is a legal theory that doesn’t allow the unauthorized commercial use of a certain individual’s likeness, name, or any other recognizable aspects of their persona.

This applies to any photo or post that you take from social media – or any website – and use it, with disregard to the feelings or the preferences of the original owners.

In short, you should get permission before publishing photos of individuals or before posting lengthy excerpts from an individual’s blog. 

Defamation

Defamation, by definition, implies any intentional false communication, either spoken or written, that harms the reputation of a person, decreases the respect in which a person is held, or induces hostile feelings against a person.

If you’re saying something about someone, it better be either true or provable – because defamation is a criminal charge in some states. Always think about the effects your posts can have – you may find it funny, but someone may end up jobless. 

Product Disparagement

Product disparagement is when you make a false statement about the quality or title of goods being offered for sale by a company or person and, as the main result, the other individual refrains from buying said product or service.

This includes the reviews you post on Facebook or Yelp and even the rants or comments from your blog. 

If you have a big voice and make people stop buying a certain product, then you may end up being sued – for reference, a one-star review turned into a $750,000 lawsuit, with damages of over one quarter million dollars that had to be paid by the reviewer. 

Tortious Interference

Tortious interference is quite similar to product disparagement. By definition, it implies interference with someone’s ability to do business or to encourage someone to break a contract. 

For example, you can say that you didn’t like the food of a certain restaurant, but you can’t tell people to avoid eating at that restaurant because the food will make you sick. The first is an opinion, while the latter is merely illegal. 

Copyright Infringement

If you’re an avid YouTube watcher, then you know precisely what copyright infringement stands for. You either create something or pay for it – or else, you simply cannot use it. 

If you don’t have written permission, a receipt, or a link to a Creative Commons license then you cannot use something that has to be bought in order to be used. 

To avoid getting sued due to copyright infringement, don’t use certain material without permission. If you do and get in trouble, remove it as soon as possible – taking advantage of the DMCA – or be prepared to pay for the material you use. Naturally, you’ll have to pay more than it costs.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, all of the above are things that some of us do daily – especially when it comes to ranting on Facebook or posting long, negative reviews.

While most companies don’t bother with them, if you end up affecting the business of a certain individual, then you will most likely get sued and forced to pay damages.

This is why – as always – it’s highly recommended that you are careful of what you say online, as well as of what you use!

 

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