Maintaining a cheerful disposition in this high-tech, fast paced life is difficult especially when you're active in social media. There are plenty of rules that one must follow so as not to get into trouble and later on be sued for libel.
For bloggers like me who wish to be on a safe side or if you are a victim of cyber-bullying and planning of suing someone, feel free to read this article I copied at http://www.lectlaw.com.
Published material meeting three conditions: The material is defamatory either on its face or indirectly; The defamatory statement is about someone who is identifiable to one or more persons; and, The material must be distributed to someone other than the offended party; i.e. published; distinguished from slander.
Criminal Law. A malicious defamation expressed either in printing or writing or by signs or pictures, tending to blacken the memory of one who is dead, with intent to provoke the living; or the reputation of one who is alive and to expose him to public hatred, contempt or ridicule. It has been defined perhaps with more precision to be a censorious or ridiculous writing, picture or sign, made with a malicious or mischievous intent.
In briefly considering this offence, we will inquire: 1. By what mode of expression a libel may be conveyed; 2. Of what kind of defamation it must consist; 3. How plainly it must be expressed; 4. What mode of publication is essential.
The reduction of the slanderous matter to writing or printing, is the most usual mode of conveying it. The exhibition of a picture, intimating that which in print would be libelous, is equally criminal. Fixing a gallows at a man's door, burning him in effigy or exhibiting him in any ignominious manner, is a libel.
There is perhaps no branch of the law which is so difficult to reduce to exact principles or to compress within a small compass as the requisites of a libel. All publications denying the Christian religion to be true; all writings subversive of morality and tending to inflame the passions by indecent language, are indictable at common law. In order to constitute a libel, it is not necessary that anything criminal should be imputed to the party injured; it is enough if the writer has exhibited him in a ludicrous point of view; has pointed him out as an object of ridicule or disgust; has, in short, done that which has a natural tendency to excite him to revenge.
If the matter be understood as scandalous and is calculated to excite ridicule or abhorrence against the party intended, it is libelous, however it may be expressed.
The malicious reading of a libel to one or more persons, it being for sale on the shelves in a bookstore; and where the defendant directed the libel to be printed, took away some and left others; these several acts have been held to be publications. The sale of each copy, where several copies have been sold, is a distinct publication and a fresh offence.
The publication must be malicious; evidence of the malice may be either express or implied. Express proof is not necessary for where a man publishes a writing which on the face of it is libelous, the law presumes he does so from that malicious intention which constitutes the offence and it is unnecessary for the prosecution to prove any circumstance from which malice may be inferred. But no allegation, however false and malicious, contained in answers to interrogatories, in affidavits duly made or any other proceedings, in courts of justice or petitions to the legislature, are indictable. It is no defence that the matter published is part of a document printed by order of the house of commons.
The publisher of a libel is liable to be punished criminally by indictment or is subject to an action on the case by the party grieved. Both remedies may be pursued at the same time.
Practice. A libel has been defined to be 'the plaintiff's petition or allegation, made and exhibited in a judicial process, with some solemnity of law;' it is also, said to be 'a short and well ordered writing, setting forth in a clear manner, as well to the judge as to the defendant, the plaintiff's or accuser's intention in judgment.' It is a written statement by a plaintiff, of his cause of action and of the relief he seeks to obtain in a suit.