This Twibel opinion starts out colorfully: “If the Internet is like the Wild West, as many have suggested, maybe Twitter is the shooting range where verbal gunslingers are caught in a prolonged hyperbolic crossfire. In this context of the fight by Tweet, the behavior at issue in this defamation case was born. “Although, to be honest, the thread in question was hardly an example of verbal gunslingers caught up in hyperbolic crossfire on Twitter.
Ganske was a social media specialist with the Associated Press. He tweeted @CGanskeAP. Man allegedly calls out possible Russian agreements on Twitter. She tweeted @patribotics (including aliases). Ganske had a back and forth on Twitter with a third party account, @ Conspirator0, stepping in as a human:
When examining the application for dismissal, the judge takes note of two further tweets that Mensch created within 20 minutes, as “the other two tweets by the defendant of July 27, 2018 are an essential part of the allegations in the appeal and are necessary to put their comments in context. ”
(As an outsider to this conversation, I find it hard to follow the thread.)
Shortly after the exchange, the AP dismissed Ganske. Ganske sued Mensch for defamation and illicit interference. Ganske alleged the following three incidents of defamation: (1) "(t) For that xenophobic tweet from you sir, I'm afraid we have to say @APCentral" quote needed () "." (2) "(y) You clearly distributed Russian bots personally on your own website"; and (3) "@ Conspirator0 Working on this drove you crazy, tweeting and trying to discredit him." The court concludes that all of these are non-appealable opinions and dismisses the case.
The court initially admits that Twitter is a crazy place that "sends a strong signal to a reasonable reader" that the statements are an opinion:
In analyzing the unique context of statements on internet forums, the courts highlighted the generally informal and unprocessed nature of these communications. As some courts have found, this context leads to “readers being less likely to believe defamatory remarks posted on the Internet than similar remarks made in other contexts”. (citing Sandals v. Google) Like the other internet forums discussed in the above cases, the Twitter forum is equally – if not more – informal and "free-spinning".
(Some other unquoted cases in this genre are Milazzo versus Connolly, LeBlanc versus Skinner, Seldon versus Compass Restaurant, Chaker versus Mateo, DiMeo versus Max, Finkel versus Dauber, Bellavia Blatt versus Kel Partners, and Spencer versus. Glover.)
Other reasons the "xenophobic" reference is an opinion:
- "While the term 'xenophobic' has a fairly clear meaning in the context of the tweet, it cannot be proven true or false."
- "The defendant's statement that the plaintiff's tweet was" xenophobic "was a reaction to the plaintiff's own words and a personal opinion on it" (Senor Norteno's comment, which was presumably intended as a filing).
- “The term 'xenophobic' is at least analogous to – if not more so than & # 39; fiery rhetoric & # 39; than – in other words, the courts in this district as & # 39; rhetorical exaggeration & # 39; and & # 39; imaginative expression & # 39; found what is typically understood as an opinion. "
The claim that Ganske distributed Russian bots may be true or false, but it was an opinion nonetheless. Mensch referred to the supporting work of @ Conspirator0 and linked to this work. "Several courts have found that including a hyperlink to a report or article in a notice shared on an internet forum is a sufficient means of revealing a factual basis on which an opinion is based." (Quoting to Adelson v. Harris).
The claim that Ganske has gone "mad" is obviously an opinion.
The tort complaint failed as a duplicate of the defamation complaint.
This statement shows two characteristics of modern cases of defamation on the Internet:
- Courts believe readers will reject factual claims because they are made in harsh environments like Twitter
- Hyperlinks to sources can convert a factual claim into an opinion about the material at the end of the hyperlink.
Case quote: Ganske versus Mensch, 2020 WL 4890423 (SDNY August 20, 2020)
Selected related articles on Twibel