Twitter Defamation Cases Are Heating Up

Watch what you say on Twitter. Just because something is 140 characters long, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the power to land you in the courtroom.

Another Twitter defamation case has been filed. Perhaps not surprisingly, this one – like several before it – is in the entertainment industry: record executive Ira DeWitt is suing artist Johnny Gill for comments that he made about her on Twitter.

According to Hollywood Reporter, Gill is being accused of attacking the reputation of Notifi Records CEO DeWitt on Twitter, by claiming that she had hired another singer to finish the vocals on his song, and then created a fake Twitter account to “leak” the unfinished single.

He also is alleged to have “…attacked the reputation of DeWitt and her company by saying on Twitter that she was “deranged” and “f**king nuts,” that Notifi was a fake company, and that she had a “hard on” for the song’s producer.”

The lawsuit was filed last week, so it has yet to go before a judge.

In the US, there have been several Twitter defamation lawsuits filed, including a notorious suit against Courtney Love, who ended up settling out of court for $430,000. An AP reporter is also currently being sued for comments he made on Twitter while covering a basketball game.

Over in the UK, Twitter defamation lawsuits have also become startlingly common. A politician was ordered to pay tens of thousands of pounds in damages, a man who tweeted about his wife’s adulterous affair is being sued, and, perhaps the most infamous of all Twitter lawsuits, a footballer is suing over a Twitter account that tweeted a statement about him which broke a super injunction.

Malaysia has even had its own defamation lawsuit, with one of the most creative settlements of the bunch: an activist had to tweet out 100 apologies to a brand that he had defamed on Twitter.

Despite the high volume of lawsuits based on tweets, there is really no legal precedence when it comes to ruling on them. Most have settled out of court. However, a recent discussion with libel lawyers does warn journalists that anything said on Twitter can be considered libelous, just as if it were published in another form.