Facebook and Defamation
October 29, 2021
Facebook and Defamation

We live in an era where we all post various things on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so on. So how careful should we be with our posts?

A recent case, Smith v. Nagy 2021 ONSC 4265, highlights the importance of thinking twice before posting harsh comments on Facebook. In that case, Amanda Nagy posted a message on her Facebook page saying that Zak Smith sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her and other women during their marriage. Smith sued her for defamation. Nagy brought this motion, called an anti-SLAPP motion, to dismiss his lawsuit.

Amongst other things, Smith and Nagy are both in the adult film industry. After they separated, Nagy was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and on January 10, 2019 posted the Facebook post that is the subject matter of this litigation. In this two-page post, Nagy alleged that she had PTSD after a decade of trauma with Smith. She wrote that throughout their relationship, he subjected her to sexual, psychological, and emotional abuse. She stated that he: threatened to kill her if she ever got pregnant and did not have an abortion; he told her that she was not allowed to refuse sex; he denigrated and abused her and other women; he pressured her to find other women and groom them sexually; and exposed her to death and rape threats posted online by requiring her to post material that he has ghostwritten.

Nagy’s Facebook post was shared over 900 times. The allegations in the Facebook post circulated widely on various online and social media platforms and blogs. As a result, Smith lost future work with various companies that no longer wanted to be associated with him. Smith has denied all the allegations.

The judge ultimately decided not to dismiss the lawsuit and thus Nagy’s motion failed. In reaching her decision, the judge concluded that this case is a matter of public interest, Smith’s claim has substantial merit, Nagy’s defences could realistically be rejected and the harm that has been suffered by Smith as a result of the Facebook post is sufficiently serious that the public interest in permitting this action to proceed to a hearing on the merits outweighs the public interest in protecting Nagy’s expression. 

So, in the end, Nagy failed in her attempt to stop the lawsuit against her and the lawsuit will continue. Cases like this make you think twice about posting horrible comments on social media. Of course, not everyone’s comments rise to the level of defamation. The difficulty with online comments is that they have the capability to be widespread in no time. So even if you take the comment down, the effects of the comment being posted on various other platforms are indefinite. Thus, damages are often difficult to determine. 

If you think someone posted or published an incorrect and harmful article or comment about you, contact the defamation and media lawyers in Toronto at Melekhovets Law to discuss your matter. Contact us today to learn more about our other services, which involve supporting our clients in the role of a corporate lawyer in Toronto.