Can you sue someone for what they say on Facebook?

By March 9, 2019Blog

Can you sue someone for what they say on Facebook?  Short answer:  Not for opinion.  You may be able to sue for defamation for obvious or implied false statements meant to materially harm reputation or economic well-being. Consider:

  • Truth is a defense.
  • Facebook page ‘owners’ cannot be held liable for comments by others. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
  • Public figures – including elected officials – must prove actual malice before they can recover.
  • §768.296, Florida’s Anti-SLAPP statute, calls for dismissal of defamation lawsuits without merit and the intent to stifle free speech. (Opinion is protected free speech.  Defamation (lies) are not.)
  • Out-of-state posters can be sued if they have sufficient ties to a Florida website or Facebook page. However, defamatory comments on a private Facebook page are probably insufficient unless the target of the comments lives in Florida. Estes v. Rodin, No. 3D17-1201 (3rd DCA 2018).
  • If both parties have unclean hands, antagonizing/ trolling each other, a jury is not likely to award damages.