The New York Post recently reported that a Delaware computer shop owner is taking on Twitter in a defamation lawsuit. The owner of the store, John Paul Mac Issac was forced to close his Mac Store in Willington Delaware after he was allegedly labelled as a hacker by Twitter’s content moderation choices.
The Post reported that Issac was paid to recover data from a laptop that belonged to Hunter Biden – the son of President-elect Joe Biden. While the Post’s sources were disputed, Twitter and Facebook restricted the article’s reach. Twitter went further to explain that the article was banned due to references to “hacked materials.”
In the suit, Issac is alleging that the basis of banning of the article by Twitter, “communicated to the world that he is a hacker.” Issac is claiming that because of this action by Twitter, he received threats and negative reviews to his business because Twitter’s moderation decision allegedly labelled him a hacker.
The case brings up interesting issues related to defamation.
Defamation under New York Law
The legal elements of defamation in New York are:
- a false statement iterated against an individual;
- false statement was published to a third party without privilege or authorization;
- the false statement amounts to at least negligence; and
- false statement caused special harm or is defamation per se.
The truth is an absolute defense in the face of a defamation claim.
If the issue addressed in the false statement regards a matter of public interest or is concerning a public figure/official, a heightened test is mandated under the U.S. Constitution.
If the matter concerns a issue of public interest or is concerning a public figure/official, the plaintiff in the matter must establish that the false statement was not based on “actual malice” (reckless disregard for the truth or knowledge that the false statement is false).
We shall be updating the reader when more information becomes available on this interesting case.
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