Trolling Twitter: Defamation in an Online World
Journal of Critical Incidents, VOL 10
18 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2018
Date Written: September 5, 2018
The Critical Incident stems from an extended exchange of comments over Twitter between film actor James Woods and an anonymous Twitter user under the pseudonym “Abe List.” Both users seemed to revel in the messy, rambunctious and often impolite milieu of Twitter. In the course of their Twitter war, Abe List tweeted, “cocaine addict James Woods still sniffing and spouting.” The comment made use of the popular internet meme of asking whether someone is “high” or “smoking crack” to challenge that person’s position as crazy or outrageous. Woods sued Abe List, characterizing his tweet as defamation alleging that Abe List jeopardized Woods’ good name and reputation. Had the 140-character free-for-all that the two engaged in left Abe List vulnerable to a claim of defamation? Could Abe List be liable for tweets that were very much like Woods’ own tweets?
Keywords: constitutional law, internet law, First Amendment, free speech, social media, defamation, libel, slander, public figure, torts, Twitter
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