Defamation is a term used by many celebrities and businesses when there has been an attack on them, their character, or their business as a whole. What exactly is defamation and who can file a case for it? Here are the most commonly asked questions surrounding defamation.

What Is Defamation?

Defamation is someone's actions have damaged a person's character or reputation due to untrue statements they made. These statements could be through the spoken or written word. Defamation can also occur when the person or business lied about has caused monetary loss, job loss, or other similar damages to someone.

Anybody who makes untrue statements and spreads rumors can be held liable in defamation cases. This can include newspaper publications and other businesses.

Is It Slander or Libel?

There are two ways that defamation can occur: through spoken or written word. If it is through writing, such as a social media post, email, or printed publication, it is known as libel. Imagery can also fall under this term.

If it is through the spoken word, whether with telephone calls or in person, this speech would count as slander. It is harder to prove than libel.

Can Celebrities Sue for Defamation?

It is harder for celebrities and other public figures to sue for defamation. They would need to prove that the false statements were shared maliciously or with negligence. Some of the most successful celebrity cases have been against tabloid journalists, where the celebrity has been unable to get work afterwards or where politicians have lost their constituents' faith because of the lies.

Does This Infringe Free Speech?

Saying an opinion—as long as it's just an opinion—is not something you can be sued for. You can give a review of a company without fear of retribution, but the statements must have come from your views and experiences with that company. You can't share something that has been proven false. 

How Is Defamation Proved?

A person suing for defamation would need to prove that the statements are false, have damaged him/her in some way, and that the defendant made the statement in some way. Showing emails or social media messages is going to be much easier than proving statements were said. It's not possible to sue just because something was false, either. The plaintiff would need to prove there were damages.

Now, you know the common questions surrounding defamation. If you have been accused of it or you want to sue someone for it, you will need to hire an attorney. This is not a small claims case.