By Jaime Page
Let’s be honest: we all do it. We settle in on the couch with our phone, or snuggle up in bed with our laptop. It’s almost second nature to click right into whatever social media is your preference. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook, there’s an immense draw to check out what your friends and favorite celebrities’ latest status updates are. What about checking your favorite celebrity gossip site? It’s not always sunshine and roses on these outlets, especially for those in the public eye. In recent months, many reality stars are fighting back against tweeters, bloggers and even co-stars, who have typed up slanderous messages about these public figures for the entire social media universe to see.
Lisa Hochstein, the freshman star of Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Miami, was the victim of slanderous tweets, stating the gorgeous blond was an escort when she previously lived in Las Vegas. The person who tweeted the statement also included that Hochstein was also a participant in soft porn movies. Instead of turning a blind eye to the tweets and only hitting the block button, Lisa decided it was time to speak out and take action. Currently, she is suing for defamation of character and states the claims are completely and totally false. According to Reality Tea, Hochstein is looking for $15,000.00 in compensation. While that may not seem like much to somebody rolling in the dough, that’s a generous amount for someone who may not have the cash. To make matters worse, the slanderer, Jessica Lederman, was an actual acquaintance of Hochstein. (Source: bloglawblog.com, realitytea.com)
Let’s take a look at one of the first Twitter defamation cases. Courtney Love was accused of using Twitter to tarnish the fashion design career of Dawn Simorangkir. The outcome? Love settled with Simonrangkir and had to fork over a whopping $430,000.00 to right her Twitter rant. That’s a pretty steep fine to pay for a moment of typing rage. (Source: verdict.justia.com)
Reality Stars Attack Each Other
According to Radar Online, Former Big Rich Texas cast member Pamela Martin Duarte has filed a lawsuit against current cast member Bonnie Blossman for cyber bullying and defamation, also stating damage to her business. Included as a defendant in the suit is Dena Miller, wife of Vaughan Miller, grandson of Real Estate mogul Henry S. Miller . Duarte alleges that both women worked together to spread negative stories in the press about her. The turbulent relationship between Duarte and Blossman was played out in Seasons 1 and 2 of Big Rich Texas, but the lawsuit takes their dislike of each other one-step further. To date, the case is still open. (Source: courthousenews.com)
Does freedom of speech equal the freedom to blog whatever falls in your lap from sources? Not so, says judiciaryreport.com. Fact checking is important and unless a story can be completely backed up by 100% facts, don’t put in on your blog. Just ask mediatakeout.com, a blogger who was sued by Evelyn Lozada of the reality show Baketball Wives. Media Take Out published a story citing that Lozada, former wife of Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, had an affair with one of his teammates. When the site refused to remove the story, a lawsuit was slapped on them. The case was settled out of court and it is not clear how much Lozada received in the settlement. (Source: judiciaryreport.com, s2smagazine.com)
Trolling For Attention
If it’s not damaging enough to harass people on Twitter or Facebook under a real account, social media users create fake or ‘troll’ accounts by which to harass not only people who do not share their views or opinions, but this is a method also used to harass, aggravate and bully people in the public eye, such as celebrities, reality stars and bloggers. What can be done about this? Report and block these accounts as much as needed. Save any tweets or messages that threaten harm and contact your local authorities. Sanchez Manning penned an article for the U.K. publication, The Independent, in which he described a case of Twitter harassment of Olympic swimmer Tom Daley, which ended up in an arrest. (Source: theindependent.com) Prosecutions in the U.S. over social media rarely happen, but that doesn’t mean it can’t occur. If you find yourself the target of troll accounts, keep documentation of all contact and report it to both the social media outlet and the local authorities.
The Final Word
So, my question is: Is it worth it? Is it worth taking a moment to type something on a social media site or blog, whether it is true or not? I should say not. The thirty seconds it takes to type a hateful message is not worth the time and aggravation spent in court, not to mention the bills that accompany a lawsuit. My advice? For bloggers, make sure you fact check and have the evidence to back up the articles you post. As for Twitter and Facebook ranters, take a deep breath and step away from the keyboard. One moment of anger is not worth the drain on your time, your resources or the damage to your reputation. Think about it.