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can i be sued for libel by someone in a forum?

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ali_2005

Junior Member
I live in Illinois and I was wondering if I can be sued for libel for something said on an anonymous forum? What would be the punishment for libel in Illinois? Also I was wondering what would be the way of going about sueing someone for such a thing. By the way I am not guilty because I have stated the truth. Thank you!
 


quincy

Senior Member
Yes, you can be sued for libel for something you write on a forum.

If you write something defamatory about a person who is recognizable and identifiable, the person you defamed can file a suit against you. If you are "anonymous" online, the person will file a "John Doe" lawsuit and the court will order the website to reveal your real identity so that the lawsuit can proceed against you. You will generally be notified about the court order prior to your identity being revealed, so that you have an opportunity to respond to the lawsuit before your identity is revealed.

There is, quite frankly, no real anonymity on the Internet, so you must be careful what you write.

If what you wrote is true, that would be a legitimate defense to any libel action brought against you, but it does not prevent a lawsuit from being filed in the first place. You would use "truth" as your defense in court - and to use truth as your defense, you would have to prove that what you wrote was, in fact, true, or was reasonably believed by you to be true.

Truth will NOT protect you against an invasion of privacy action, however, if you reveal information about someone that is true but confidential or true but potentially embarassing for the individual.

The "punishment" for libel varies.

For any defamation action, the individual defamed would have to demonstrate reputational injury suffered as a result of the comments made. Because reputations do not come with a price tag, an individual defamed will ask for a LOT of money to compensate for his injury. Money awarded for injury to a reputation is called compensatory or general damages. Pecuniary damages can also be awarded - these are actual monetary losses suffered as a result of the defamation, occurring from the loss of a job or the loss of a promotion, for instance. Additional damages can be awarded for pain and suffering, although this is not common.

Defamation suits are expensive to bring - and even more expensive to lose. It is certainly better to never to say anything defamatory about anyone ever.
 

quincy

Senior Member
Seniorjudge is right. Lawsuits over content posted on the Internet occur frequently.

Suits arise from postings on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, although the suits are not limited to these few sites, of course. These sites, however, seem to attract a younger group of users who may not be aware of the laws that guide Internet use or who may believe they are invincible in their anonymity.

But you also have infringement actions that are brought against posters on sites such as eBay and Craigslist, where items that are sold may infringe on a copyright or trademark holder's rights, and you have invasion of privacy actions occurring from what is posted on the Facebook-type sites or Picasa, where photos are displayed that should not be. But defamation suits are, perhaps, the actions that occur most frequently.

Many people do not realize that what is posted on a site can be traced back to them. They believe, wrongly, that they can post whatever they want about whomever they want and there will be no repercussions because on these sites they are "anonymous." This false belief has cost many a poster a lot of money.

I will add that most of these suits never go to trial. The attorneys involved (and you would want and probably require an attorney if you are sued for defamation) will try to negotiate a settlement between the parties. It was recently estimated that between 82% and 90% of all lawsuits will be settled before trial.

A settlement is to both parties' benefit because it saves time and money - trials can often drag on a long time and all court-related costs escalate as a result.
 

goingdeep

Junior Member
Can you be sued if you use the same user handle and avatar as someone else on an internet forum?

For example, if someone registered on another forum as goingdeep, and used the same avatar I did (I don't have one here, bear with me) and went on to pretend that they were me.... could I sue them?
 

Silverplum

Senior Member
Can you be sued if you use the same user handle and avatar as someone else on an internet forum?

For example, if someone registered on another forum as goingdeep, and used the same avatar I did (I don't have one here, bear with me) and went on to pretend that they were me.... could I sue them?
Please start your own thread, name your state.

Thanks.
 

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