Journalist R. Nadeswaran is found guilty of posting defamatory remarks on Twitter and ordered by the Malaysian court to pay RM500,000 to the complainant, property developer Datuk Mohamad Salim Fateh Din, according to The Star.
This is a landmark court case, as Mr. Nadeswaran is the first Malaysian to be sued for his postings on social network Twitter. In 2011, political activist Fahmi Fadzil was the first to apologize 100 times on Twitter as a settlement in a defamation case.
We are seeing a growing number of legal actions brought worldwide against Internet users for libelous comments posted online, which are setting precedents to previously uncharted waters of unbounded freedom of speech.
Generally, when it comes to control on the Internet, social media users and Internet companies prefer regulation-less environment. And they probably agree with this New York court’s opinion on online communications – emails, blogs and online media:
are often the repository of a wide range of casual, emotive, and imprecise speech, and that the online recipients of [offensive] statements do not necessarily attribute the same level of credence to the statements [that] they would accord to statements made in other contexts.
But in a self-regulation virtual environment, it is essential for users to adopt a more common sensical approach when posting their thoughts on the social web. Lies, slanders, and unfounded allegations will get you into legal predicaments in the offline and online environments.
Similar to the physical world, your freedom of speech online must not unreasonably risks adversely affecting another person’s well-being and interests.
Defamation and Twitter: A Practical Guide to Covering Your Ass