As with disclosure, influencers are bound by the very same laws as media outlets and journalists.
The moment content is published online, it becomes a part of the public domain. It’s therefore extremely important to carefully consider what you say and/or write about others, regardless of whether it’s an individual or a brand, the consequences can be grave when you step out of line.
English law allows actions for libel to be brought for any published statements or implications which are alleged to defame a named or identifiable individual(s) or company, in a manner which damages their trade / profession, or their reputation.
The law is fairly tough, the burden falling upon the defendant who must prove their alleged defamatory statements were true.
According to Press Gazette, Welsh blogger, Jacqui Thomson lost a libel case brought against her by Carmarthenshire County Council chief executive Mark James. The court action cost the defendant dearly, with expenses rising to over £220,000.
A further case arose in the US where a lawsuit was filed against a blogger by Melania Trump on the grounds of defamation. After court ruling, the defendant agreed to apologise to the Trump family and pay her a “substantial sum”.
If you’re referencing brands, products and/or individuals be sure to…
Pay close attention to the accuracy and tone of your writing
Always check facts and support them with evidence from reliable sources
Be cautious about including links and lifting direct quotations – you must be certain they’re factually accurate. Reprinting libellous statements – called ‘republication’ – doesn’t separate you from potential defamation claims
Develop editorial standards for your posts / videos. Many media outlets have formal guidelines in place to ensure editors and journalists make consistent and considered editorial decisions.