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You just might be sued for that nasty Facebook comment

Posted by Administrator on October 19, 2011

No matter how private you may think Facebook is, you can be sued for whatever you post.. Photo/FILE

No matter how private you may think Facebook is, you can be sued for whatever you post.. Photo/FILE

Last week, Safina party leader Paul Muite and four others said they intend to sue a Moses Kuria over the contents of a Facebook message regarding the Kenyan case at the International Criminal Court.

In a subsequent statement, Mr Kuria said the following status he allegedly posted in early October was the reason for the legal suit: “I have said Ocampo has no case.  All he has are fake witnesses coached by Hassan Omar, Wambugu Ngunjiri, Paul Muite, Ndung’u Wainaina, Njonjo Mue and Maina Kiai.”

Mr Muite is said to have asked for an apology or retraction from Mr Kuria within seven days, failure to which the case would proceed to court, which it now has.

In a statement on Facebook, Mr Kuria said the law suit was tantamount to curtailing his freedom of expression, and argues that what he posts on the website cannot be construed as libel.

“To accuse me… is presumptuous, naïve and betrayal of a 19th Century mindset on the part of the gentlemen. It is understandable [they would] find social media alien,” said Mr Kuria.

Facebook statuses are typically short statements posted in response to the question ‘what is on your mind?’ which are then shared on the popular social media website among the users network of friends.

Precedent-setting

Depending on an individual’s privacy settings, this statement can be broadcast to the entire Internet population, or it can be limited to the followers that a single Facebook user.

The Muite/ Kuria case will be a precedent-setting for several reasons; it is the first such ‘Facebook’ case in the history of Kenya, and the court’s decision could dictate how the country handles similar cases involving social media and other new technologies.

Kenyan law already allows mobile texts to be accepted as evidence in court, and some suspects have already been prosecuted on the strength of SMS texts they sent to others. Extending a stricter legal focus to Facebook would open up the growing numbers of people on the website to tighter scrutiny by law-makers.

The Kenya’s Facebook population is said to over 600,000 – the single largest grouping of Kenyans on any Internet site – with some industry estimates placing the population at over one million.

Going by estimates that claim the average Facebook user updates their status three times in a week, this means at least 1.8 million statuses a week in Kenya are potential lawsuit magnets.

This is not just a concern in Kenya. Globally, most Facebook—related lawsuits involve libel cases, where a company or individual defame another person or company using the website.

Coming in a close second are cases where people have broken employment terms using the website.

This is where the infamous status updates where an individual posts that they had ‘a fabulous time at the party last night’ and are ‘still nursing a hangover’ when they had earlier told their employer they were nearly on their death beds or sick at hospital come into play.

Several employees around the world have been fired for posting status updates in variance with what they tell their employer they are up to, setting the stage for a claim that the employee breached the terms of their employment.

Social media guidelines

Employers are also becoming increasingly vigilant about what their staff members say about their companies or their competitors firms, and many now have in place social media guidelines that if breached can lead to the employee being fired legally under law.

Facebook users can also be sued for copyright infringements if they use someone else’s material without permission, which should cause all those who are fond of using a celebrity picture as their identification picture some pause.

No matter how private you may think Facebook is, you can be sued for whatever you post.

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/You+just+might+be+sued+for+that+nasty+Facebook+comment+/-/539444/1258390/-/bkra1qz/-/

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One Response to “You just might be sued for that nasty Facebook comment”

  1. M Gachanja said

    Collectively known as defamation, libel and slander are civil wrongs that harm a reputation; decrease respect, regard, or confidence; or induce disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an individual or entity, in the the eyes of right thinking persons of sound mind. The injury to one’s good name or reputation is affected through written or spoken words or visual images, be it in social networks or otherwise.

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