Before you leave a nasty comment on someone’s Facebook page, you may want to rethink what you type.
A woman who left a vicious comment on a former colleague’s Facebook page has been taken to court for defamation and has copped a $500,000 fine.
Citizen Times reported on the defamation case in the US, where a woman named Jacqueline Hammond posted a cruel comment on the Facebook page of former co-worker Davyne Dial.
The comment was ‘I didn’t get drunk and kill my kid.’
Unfortunately, it was the worst comment to make to Dial, as she did lose a son in 1976 when he was killed after being shot by another child in a tragic accident.
Dial had nothing to do with the accident, nor was she drunk.
Dial found out about the comment after a friend screenshotted the comment and sent it to her. She was shocked and deeply emotional by the comment. Even though the comment was later deleted, the damage had been done.
When the shock wore off, Dial contacted her attorney.
She reportedly told Citizen Times, “And then it started sinking in that she was making this allegation on social media and that it was going out to other people, so therefore she’s telling people I got drunk and killed my child.
“In fact, my child was killed in an accident with another little boy, playing with guns.”
Dial’s attorney advised she had grounds for a lawsuit and she decided to go ahead with it. Not to be malicious, but to prove a point that leaving hurtful comments online can have consequences. And in Dial’s case, the comment was falsely accusing her of committing a crime. As a result, her former colleague was found guilty of defamation and handed a $500,000 fine.
Interestingly, the comment was only left online for a minute before being deleted, yet because the comment was screen shot, it was used as evidence against Ms Hammond.
In Australia, under the Criminal Code Act 1995, it is an offence to use the internet, social media or a telephone to menace, harass or cause offence. If found guilty, the maximum penalty is three years imprisonment or a fine of more than $30,000.
A computer screen can not protect you from defamation. If you haven’t got anything nice to type, don’t type it. Even a deleted comment can come back to bite you.