When Retweets Attack: Are Twitter Users Liable for Republishing the Defamatory Tweets of Others?

Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (2012)

34 Pages Posted: 24 May 2014 Last revised: 27 May 2018

Daxton "Chip" Stewart

Texas Christian University

Date Written: April 12, 2012

Abstract

Under the republication doctrine, repeating false and defamatory statements has traditionally triggered liability for the repeater. However, some confusion has emerged regarding retweeting the posts of others on Twitter, the popular microblog site. Does retweeting the defamatory statement of another open the retweeter to liability? This article examines exceptions to the republication doctrine such as the single publication rule, the wire service defense, and the Communications Decency Act (CDA) to answer this question. A review of court opinions leads to the conclusion that Section 230 of the CDA provides a powerful shield for users of interactive computer services such as Twitter.

Keywords: libel, Twitter, social media, defamation, republication, Communications Decency Act

Suggested Citation

Stewart, Daxton "Chip", When Retweets Attack: Are Twitter Users Liable for Republishing the Defamatory Tweets of Others? (April 12, 2012). Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly (2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2039132 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2039132

Daxton Stewart (Contact Author)

Texas Christian University ( email )

Fort Worth, TX 76129
United States
817-258-5911 (Phone)

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