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Libel Vs. Slander

What Is Libel Vs. Slander?

Libel vs. slander can be confusing, and with the ease of publishing your thoughts on social media, could put you at some risk. Libel is a written defamatory statement, and slander is a spoken or oral defamatory statement.

Libel is a defamatory statement in print. The most common places for making libelous (written) statements are:

  • letters to the editor of local newspapers
  • public comments on media (i.e., newspaper or magazine) web sites
  • blog posts
  • comments to blog posts
  • social media, internet chat rooms or list¬†servers

You most likely won’t see too many potentially libelous comments in published written letters to the editor because editors are generally very careful in screening out such letters. It is on the internet where people can get into trouble with libel. While some web sites screen posts for inflammatory or illegal content, the screening systems are not geared to examine every post for libelous content. In fact, many websites that allow comments don’t moderate them at all.

Example of Libel

The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, had to agree to pay damages and issue an apology to Melania Trump to settle defamation claims over the British tabloid's insinuations that she "provided services beyond simply modelling."

The basis for the lawsuits in the U.S. and the U.K. was the Mail's report about Melania's time as a model, published online and in a two-page article last summer under the headline, "Racy photos and troubling questions about his wife's past that could derail Trump." As this was in print, it is considered to fall under libel.

libel vs. slander

Slander, on the other hand, is an oral defamatory statement, so those statements can be made anywhere and to anyone - as long as it's to a third party, meaning someone other than the person who is allegedly being defamed. If you tell your best friend something defamatory about a person, that person could sue you for defamation if he/she could prove that he/she was damaged as a result of your statement.

Slander Example Online

As an example of slander, a Maryland blogger wrote as fact about unsubstantiated rumors Melania Trump had worked as an escort and falsely said she suffered a breakdown. With no evidence of this and by stating it as fact, Mrs. Trump was successful in establishing defamation. This was considered libel but had he spread the rumor verbally rather than just in writing, he would have been guilty of slander. Again, both are defamation.

In South Carolina, slander and libel is a misdemeanor with hefty fines and jail time.

While we hope you never experience defamation of character, if you feel you have been a victim of defamation of character, let the Anastopoulo Law firm represent you to get compensation to which you may be entitled. Call us at 1-800-313-2546.

Image courtesy of iStock

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