5 Easy Ways to Get Sued on Facebook

69

Social networking has been a boon for most Web users, allowing even the most non-tech savvy people a chance to connect with friends, publish photos and generally have a presence online. With some 500 million active users on Facebook, it is by far the largest social network and it has given a voice to millions who never would have even considered publishing online otherwise.

But while this has been a boon in many ways, most people are not familiar with mass media law and those who are often don’t see social networking as “publishing” worthy of such contemplation. However, Facebook is very much a public place and getting more so every day.

What you post on a Facebook, as well as other social networks, can easily come back to haunt you if you aren’t careful and it isn’t just jobs and relationships being destroyed, it’s also a matter of lawsuits being filed.

So what are some of the legal dangers that come with posting on Facebook. There are many but here are five of the more common ones.

1. Libel

If you post things on Facebook that are materially untrue about others and unfairly tarnishes their reputation, you can be sued for libel and it has happened before.

Though it might be tempting to think of Facebook as a private communication, a plaintiff only has to show that a third party saw the communication and it hurt their reputation. You can commit libel with something distributed to a small list of your friends the same as if you had posted it on the broader Web.

2. Copyright Infringement

If you post content that is copyrighted by others without their permission, they can, at least in theory, sue you for it. Once again, it is an infringement even if it was only distributed to a few of your friends, though that makes it much less likely that a copyright holder will sue.

I wasn’t able to find an example of a copyright holder suing for copyright infringement over a Facebook posting but it could easily happen. The suits and threats are rare now as much of the infringement likely is private but as Facebook opens up, so will the searches for copyrighted material and, along with it, the takedown filings and lawsuits.

This may be an impending wave more than a current one, but the risk is very real.

3. Privacy

Facebook itself has a very poor privacy reputation (and has been sued over it) but users can also contribute the problem by posting private information of others, including photos that were taken at a moment where the subject had a reasonable expectation of privacy or posting private information publicly.

With Facebook enabling tagging of posts and photos, it is easy to see how a user could upload something private about another person and let them know about it, only to discover that person is not too happy about the public exposure and decides to sue.

In short, be careful what you reveal and post about others without their permission.

4. Harassment

Harassment is defined as when someone “repeatedly behaved in a manner that was perceived as intrusive or threatening.” On that front, there is hardly a better place to harass someone than on Facebook (or any other social network).

At least some cases of Facebook harassment have reached the courts, including one case where a son sued his own mother for harassment after she broke into his account and posted as him.

The big problem with harassment is that what one person defines has harassment another might not. As such, if someone asks you to leave them alone, it is probably wise to do so.

5. Breach of Contract

Finally, this is a very broad area to consider but most people who use Facebook have other jobs and many of those jobs have rules and regulations about what one can and can not discuss in public. These are often enforced in non-disclosure agreements that are buried within the documents a new employee or contractor signs when joining up.

If you talk too intimately about your work, or anything else you’ve agreed not to talk about, you could find yourself facing a lawsuit for breach of contract. However, that can be said on pretty much anything you signed a contract to do and didn’t do, including wearing the wrong hair extensions.

Bottom Line

In the end, Facebook is not much different legally than blogging and that’s because, in many ways, the two acts are very similar. The only difference being that Facebook favors shorter posts to a (theoretically) smaller audience. However, both still involve publishing content to a broader audience across the Web and, as such, both come with very similar potential legal pitfalls.

So it is important to treat your Facebook posting the same as you would your blogging or anything you posted to a public forum. The law isn’t going to draw much of a distinction between the two in most areas and, as such, there isn’t much reason you should either.

Want to Republish this Article? Request Free Permission Here. It's Free.

69 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Jonathan, recently a Facebook user based in Malaysia had written a very insulting status (regarding religion) that provoked the anger of most Malaysians. Due to this, the government is going to hunt down this particular user (most Malaysians agree that this user must be punished).

    • Awesome. So glad the Malaysian people think that speaking freely means that mob death is appropriate. Gods, I’m glad we’ve grown as a species. Terrifyingly, you seem to be endorsing it. May you be judged according to your own standards.

    • that is the most ridiculous thing ive ever heard, your country is taking away the free will of others using religion as a tool, its nothing new but its barbaric and you may aswell be living in the stone age.

  2. I have had my website images stolen and published by a local competitor as their company profile picture on their own facebook account., can I sue them and will I win?

    • Possibly though there are other variables to discuss. You may want to drop me a line to jonathan at copybyte dot com with the details of the case. I’ll see what you might be able to do.

  3. My girlfriends ex-boyfriend posted a message to my Facebook page (shared with my wife) and crashed my marriage. Can I sue him ?

      • This is a legal cause and effect case. The ex-boyfriend destroyed his marriage with the posting (the cause) which in the end destroyed his marriage (the effect). There is precedent here for the ex-boyfriend of his wife to be sued for legal damages.

  4. Thank you for your concise, timely summary of the legal ramifications and consequences of what one posts on Facebook. A disclaimer of privacy does not protect one from libel, harassment, bullying or intimidation charges, any more than it would any other civil or criminal act. And the courts have upheld this. So, everyone really needs to think before they post, or risk the legal consequences.

  5. Thank you for your timely, concise summary of the legal ramiifications and potential consequences of posting on Facebook. A disclaimer for the right to “privacy” does not protect one from being sued, nor from being held accountable for evidence related to the commision of any civil or criminal act. The courts have upheld the law in favor of the plaintiff in several lawsuits involving libel, harassment, intimidation or other forms of bullying, or threat. It is also a reflection of who and what you are, and can come back to haunt you. More and more, employers, insurance companies and others are using it in their daily operations. So all can learn and think before they post.

  6. Thank you for your timely and concise summary of the legal ramifications and potential consequences of what one posts on Facebook. A disclaimer for right to privacy or “free speech” does not protect one from being sued, nor from being held accountable for the commission of any civil or criminal act. The courts have upheld the law in favor of the plaintiff in several lawsuits pertaining to libel, harassment, intimidation, bullying, or any other threat. It is also a reflection of what and who you are, and can come back to haunt you. More and more, employers, insurance companies and others are using it toward decision making in their daily operations. So, all should learn and really, really think before they post.

  7. We have several people who owe our business money and have bounced checks with us. Is it illegal to post on our facebook page that we would like for them to “come in and PAY us a visit”?

    • This is similar to my predicament. I am the above post. I wouldn’t say it’s lawsuit worthy unless you’re aggressive in how you got your message across. For example I couldn’t say “My mother is a whore who slept around with multiple men while with my father” but I could say “My mother was free and easy to any handyman” or “My mother had questionable morals when it came to adultery”. I think it’s just the way it comes across, if it’s aggressive then you’re probably on shaky ground but if it’s a weak statement then it should be fine. Hope this helps, any advice on my situation?

    • I would think it comes under libel or defamation suits and does have legal ramifications for a possible lawsuit for damages incurred.

  8. When my parents split I went to stay with my father and my sister went to stay with our mother. Long story behind that but that’s not the issue.That was 7 years ago and I’m now 20 and she’s now 22. I recently messaged her on facebook and presented her with facts of our parents split. I told her about events that had gone on since she left for uni. These facts are unpleasant to read however they aren’t untrue and I made no accusation that wasn’t true and backed up by court reports. After a few messages she ended her message by saying if I replied then she would be calling the police on me. I’m wondering if she has any grounds or if it’s just big talk? Again I reiterate, I wasn’t abusive, aggressive or intimidating and I presented facts only that I can back up if needed. If she was to phone the police would she get into trouble for wasting police time? If anything she has been the one who has shown most aggression in her replies by referring to my brothers and I as being not her family anymore and how she couldn’t care what happened to us etc. Is this a police issue? I’m under the impression it ‘s not classed as harassment or libel if it’s untrue. Any help on this?

  9. I want to thank Dr.Shekirry for the great work he has done,i am very great full for helping me get back my lover back after he abandoned me for good four months with pains and tears in my heart. i am Catherine from Canada. my boyfriend before the break up usually insult and see nothing good in any thing i do, i felt as if i was cursed. my friends advice me to let go but i couldn’t because of the love i have for him which was so strong and could even move a mountain after two days of my contact with Dr.Shekirry my boyfriend came back with apologies and love that he had never show me before. right now he doesn’t insult me any more rather he tells me how pretty and wonderfully made i am by God each morning. one thing i love about Dr.Shekirry , is that he is so accommodating and free,you can still call shekirryspellcastingtemple@gmail.com or phone him on +2348154053024

  10. Hi I recently posted a picture on Facebook no names no faces another user left a comment about the picture and left the name of the person driving in it so I removed the picture deleted the picture .can I be sued for it ???

  11. A person took a photograph from my facebook page, photoshopped a message on it, and forwarded it to a series of people from my contact list. The message accused me of a crime that DID NOT occur and was previously investigated by local authorities that did not file charges. What is my recourse at this moment?

  12. what about if somebody uses a movie star photos, and then create an album on her facebook and suggesting that it was her? Can she be sued as well?

  13. I have a concern regarding a post about my 14yr son made by a 50 yr women. What was posted with his name is a completely false statement. She stated that he was bullying a young lady, called her a sl*t and to go kill herself . None of this happened!! I spoke with my local PD, and because she is not threatening harm….can not do anything. Any advice?

  14. I started a facebook page about rating physicians – can I be sued for slander? or only the people that post on my page? or am I accountable because it is my page?

    • Your email address, which only I can see because I’m the admin, indicates that you are Canadian. If that’s true, I really don’t know. In the U.S., you would be protected by the Communications Decent Act so long as you didn’t post the material yourself. In Canada, I have no idea though and would look up the laws there.

      • Hi Jonathan
        10 months ago a family members fb page was hacked and the hacker took on the family members information and identity, this was reported to FB but the page is still up.
        Since then messages about myself has started to appear as coming from the hacked account but with my family member’s name on it, the messages are about me, and are defamatory and has prevented me a couple of times from gaining employment in the childcare sector (I live in a small community).

        What can be done to stop this, we do not know who is doing this but they seem to have a lot of information available to them about myself and some of my friends.

        I would appreciate any advice you may have so we can create a stop to this.

        Thanks,

  15. I have a question about postings of “beware’ list on facebook. I am a member of many 1/87 scale model pages.One member seems to gather info from other groups about some did someone wrong. He will spam or post to many groups that John Smith Doe is a crook, lied, ripped some one off. Can he be liable for posting 3-4 or 5th hand information as slander. SECOND question, there is a 1/87 scale selling group and the owner has a “BEWARE” list. He maintains this list with the same above person i mentioned. They have people listed in their BEWARE list by name and beside it they call them crooks, thieves and everything you can think of. Can they be sued for anything like that? (they have cleaned their act up a little)

  16. My ex partner (who I lived with) is telling everyone, even the courts (we are in litigation for money he owes me) that we never had a relationship, but we did and I have photos to prove it. What would or could be the outcome if photos of him asleep in my bed (not naked)or photos of us together were posted on ebay just saying something like “this man says he never had a relationship with ***** but here are photos of him asleep in her bed!

  17. There are two woman who continuously post statements about me on Facebook. I have taken screen shots since day one and have contacted an attorney. Please know that these people DONT have to include your name. Only refer to you in a way that can distinguish who you are. I urge anyone who is being harassed to seek an attorney and hold them ACCOUNTABLE. My attorney told me to keep gathering screen shots and when I have had enough we will file. Today was the day! Good luck to you all! : )

  18. Thank you for any other great post. Where else may anyone get that kind of information in such an ideal means of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the look for such information.

  19. I was bullied at work,walked of the job & posted something on there Facebook page. It was wrong but I’m tired of being bullied. Its not right ppl get away with treating other ppl horrible.

  20. Hi, a friend of mine is being harassed by his brother in law on constant basis on the social media mainly whats app. the problem is the alleged plaintiff and defendant are not living in the same country. Plaintiff lives in Africa and his brother in law lives in the USA where I live, therefore he asked me if I could file a lawsuit by the power of attorney against his brother in law. is that possible.
    thanks,, Omar

  21. My ex who is now with somebody else who he walked out on me and his unborn child has posted total upsetting lies a about me on my time line.
    I had friends calling to inform me, I’m distraught and although they were total lies, the thought has been put there now to at least 200 people.
    Can I sue him for liable as now I’m of work sick with pregnancy illness brought on by the stress this has now caused me and also his new girl friend is physically threatening me and saying she will make a good job of it while I’m pregnant can I call police, is there any criminal offences there?
    Thanks xx

  22. Hi jonathan I have reported 2 harrassment reports because some girl is inboxing my private pics to families and friends I reported it but her page is still active. What can I do? Any advice will be helpful she is ruining my life all I want is peace thanks

  23. Some one is putting my face on pictures on their profile, when I asked why and for them to stop the pictures were gone. But they still do it.

  24. You’ll never have to be worried about searching Google for tree company corporations
    ever again, when you take effect with your pine corporation.

  25. Hi Jonathan, Great site and thanks for the help. My question: I set up a GoFundMe account for a friend to raise money. I distributed every penny however this “friend” went on Facebook and said I stole $160 from the donations. This is a complete LIE. She blocked me but anther friend saved all the posts. She had all her friends and some mutual friends calling me names and lying about me. How do I go about filing a suit against her (and her husband for threatening me by doing a ‘drive by’)? Thanks again for your advice.

  26. Hi, Jonathan when school started on 9/8/15 I took a picture of my kids with sad faces and me in the back cheering that school was back. I was picked by the news for the pic of the day. So of course comments started coming in. One was “They look like illegal aliens”. WHich we are not. This is on news facebook for all to see. She also called them ancher babies whatever that means. Can I sue. My kids have to deal with this now.

  27. My son who is terminally ill pic was posted on Facebook as a scammer. He was on the side walk in town, and someone took the pic and posted it, saying he had told people he had AIDS, he has been had a problem with drugs, that’s how he got this disease. This person posted lies, then everyone came out calling him scum, telling me I can get insurance, when I can’t.and be doesn’t have AIDS, you would not believe what some have posted lies about him and me, most don’t know us. The suicide rate for people with chronic hep B& C is unreal,he is very depressed over this,several people tagged the Adm.she said t had to be taking down because of the arguments, so she’s saying I can pass her on the street, and take a pic of her and say she’s a prostitute, and it would be left up? I don’t think it’s right to bully, and lie,and harrase him, he has made mistakes, but this is very wrong!!!!

  28. please advise, can i be prosecuted for posting about my ex on fb? the comments i’ve made are true and factual.the are not threatening and do not use bad language. they do however inform people of things that i’m sure she’d rather not have out in public; such as whilst she’s still married she has had various boyfriends and with the blessing of her husband brings them to her house where she lives with him and there children. she is from another country and her family/friends back home dont know her true situation. we both live in the uk.
    she has reported me to the police who have given me a pin notice, is this fair when the things i’ve said are true and not threatening?

  29. I made a fake profile and messaged someone on his business page then deactivated the account so he couldn’t reply. Understandably so he was livid because it affected his business. Can he sue me?

  30. My relative, who is in jail, has a Facebook account that was hacked and used by someone to post on his behalf. I have asked again and again through the Facebook modes for this to be investigated and for his account to be taken down. I don’t want to take legal action but I want it taken down. any advice?

  31. I recently got slandered on Facebook “social media” and this girl also was harassing me and my bf by text messages and messenger and I filed a protective order against her and made a police report and the judge did nothing…what else can I do??? This girl needs to know what she is doing is wrong on so many levels

  32. My Ex-Fiance, character assassinated me in facebook due to that I lost my credibility with my clients as I am a consultant as she is harassing my family, friends, clients and colleagues. She let her friends share it on facebook and treating like some criminal. Though, I owe her money but I lost my career and spent a lot of money for the wedding where she turned her back where everything is ready and in place. Can I file a Libel Case on this? Let me know your thoughts.

  33. I have sent a malicious message to one of lady friend using Facebook Private Messaging. Now they want to sue me unless i ask for a public apology, Is right for me to apologize in public even though my message is private and only between me and the lady?

  34. A certain group admin is asking group members to send him proof of their address in a form of official utility bill or similar, with their name and address on the header to prove they live in London in order to be allowed to join the group.
    That can’t be legal right? Asking for an official document with your address as well as the name in order to join his FB group? I smell a big rat, am I right?

  35. Please help, my ex friends are proxy in on my network.. They slander, bash and took over several emails and social sites. The have created false sites with
    My pic and nasty pornographic crap. I only have a land line and have been seeing a psy for 4years now… I don’t know what to do, please help . Rebecca Parchmont

    .

  36. face book needs to be held accountable to what they allow on fb…they allow these girls to make up these profiles that promote sex they allow them to show their body in ways that is not acceptable face book has now become the new pimp where man can promotes their hoes…..face book doesn’t block these kind of accounts face book allows it…its time to take up a class action law sue to hold face book accountable for their lack of actions!!!!!!

  37. I love how people are leaving comments here, as if this was Dear Abby. Can’t they see that none of them been answered, save one, since 2012?

  38. After being in relationship with him for 3 years, he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the other ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, lotto, his email is DRAISEDIONSPELLCASTER@OUTLOOK.COM you can email him if you need his help in your relationship or any other problem like wining lottery your problem can never remain the same again, it will turn a thing of the past in your life.

  39. Someone recently posted a photo of me getting in my car showing my license plate number. Many people have commented and shared the photo and have given out my name, address and posted other photos of me as well. It has received many posts of personal threats and things they will do to me if they ever find me. The crazy thing is it was a total misunderstanding and the guy will not let it go. I know they cannot post photos I have taken under copyright laws. But what about the others? Also they are passing around my license plate number and a couple of people have transposed the numbers and it is implicating someone else? Is there a law suit here?

  40. Philips cliff is my name,really dont know how to thank Dr.Okosun Ayemere for helping me get my ex back after 2years of break up.i contacted him and he told me that my ex will come within a 24hrs of casting the spell,i never believe this until i saw her in my house.Never doubt or worry your self in such problems,all you need to do is to contact him on dr.okosunayemere@gmail.com because he has the solution to your problems.

  41. Edit and crop a private message between me an someone else crop/cut down to show only their name and message and possed on my fb wall, is this illegale. They and friends are now threatening me

  42. I found images on my husbands google account of a female butt and lots of baby pictures along with the same female over and over again. I confronted him about those images and asked who the female was and who the baby was and whose but that was he simply said I was crazy and immediately deleted the photos from his cell phone little did he know I had taken a picture of the laptop screen in which i had seen the pictures. Two days later i posted the screen shots i had taken onto facebook in a local city group saying ” 1000 bucks to who ever can tell me who’s ass this is”. Now the female came out of the closet and said she was going to the police.. my question is, am I in legal problems for what i did??

  43. i am david
    I posting this comment for those who have HIV Aids and need cure, This is my story,
    i was a victim of HIV Aids, i lived with this virus for 4 years without a cure,
    all my hope was lost, i thought i would die soon, i searched for help but all was
    in vein but i never stopped searching, but by miracle i came mistakenly came across
    a herb caster named dr olufa, so i contacted him for a try, gush, i did not believed
    what happened, he cured me just in 14 day, the virus left my body, i was normal again
    like before, i am so shot of words, i am the happiest person so ever, i cant believe
    i could be healed again. please contact him if you have the same problem as mine, he
    we help you to become happy again, email him at olufahomeofsolution@outlook.com I’m so
    grateful for healing me, I will always be grateful sir.and i we let the world no that there
    is cure for them to be free form it too

  44. this is a very joyful day of my life because of the help priest tokubo has rendered to me by helping me to get my ex back with his magic spell. i was married for 6 years and it was so terrible because my husband was really cheating on me and was seeking for a divorce but when i came acros priest tokubo email address on the internet i explained my situation to him and then seek his help but to my greatest surprise he told me that he will help me with my case and here i am now celebrating because my husband has change totally for good. he always want to be by me and can not do anything without my present. i am really enjoying my marriage, what a great celebration. i will keep on testifying on the internet because priest tokubo is truly a real spell caster i swear with my life priest tokubo is a real spell caster. do you need help then contact doctor priest tokubo now contact him through his email: highpriesttokubo @ gmail. com

  45. If there are bullying, punk kids at the local park cursing and spitting and when asked to please stop this behavior around my toddlers who are playing on the playground equipment and they refuse and say they have a right to do whatever they want because it is a free country…can I post their pictures on facebook in the hopes of their parents seeing this behavior and hopefully doing something about it?

  46. I want to use this medium to thank Dr Osato for helping me to get my girlfriend back after she dumped me. My girlfriend breakup with me because i accuse her of cheating and told me she is no longer interested in me and live me in pain and heart break.I seek for help on the internet and i saw so many good testimonies about this great spell caster Dr Osato and i contacted on his email (relationshipspell@gmail. com) and explain my problems to him and he cast a love spell for me which i use to get back my girlfriend within the period of 2days and i am so grateful to him for the good work he has done for me,that is why i also want to let everyone who is in need of help out there to also seek help from him so he can help him/her .His email is relationshipspell@gmail. com or contact him on his website: http://relationshipspellhelp.webs. com You can contact for any kind of help and he will help you.

  47. MY HIV HEALING TESTIMONY
    My mouth is short of words, i am so so happy because Dr.chocha
    has healed me from HIV ailment which i have been suffering from the
    past 5years now, i have spend alot when getting drugs from the
    hospital to keep me healthy, i have tried all means in life to always
    i can become Hiv negative one day, but there was no answer until i
    found Dr from Dr.chocha the prince of african who provide me some
    healing spell that he uses to help me, now i am glad telling everyone
    that i am now HIV Negative, i am very very happy, thank you Dr.chocha
    for helping my life comes back newly without anyform of crisis, may
    the good lord that i serve blessed you Dr.chocha and equip you to the
    higher grade for healing my life. i am so amazed. so i will announced
    to everyone in this whole world that is HIV positive to please follow
    my advice and get healed on time, because we all knows that HIV
    disease is a deadly type,contact Dr.chocha for your Hiv healing spell
    today at: dr.chochahomeofpossibilities@outlook.com…. or +2349051175814
    He will be always happy to assist you online and ensure you get healed on time, contact Dr.chocha
    today for your healing spell immediately, thank you sir

  48. Question: i gave a friend permission to create a personal page on FB and then he ran it for maybe 1 year and I found out he asked my friends to like his business page. Is this illegal? Can I sue?

  49. I must confess that over here in the United States it is very difficult to get a powerful spell caster that will be able to restore broken marriages or relationships, But through the help of the internet i was able to get in touch with this powerful spell caster called High priest tokubo after reading a lot of good reviews about him on the internet so i contact him through his details bellow And after i told him about my relationship stress then high priest tokubo told me to calm down that my lover will come back to apologies to me for leaving me, I never taught that this was going to be possible, Just within 48 hours that i contacted high priest tokubo my lover sent me and an sms text saying that i should forgive him and before i knew it he was already at my place begging me to accept him back. you can connect him on: (((( highpriesttokubo @ gmail . com ))))

LEAVE A REPLY