Social and business networking sites such as Twitter, Linked In and Facebook continue to grow in popularity.  As a result, increasing numbers of disgruntled employees, who are more commonly known as Trolls, are choosing to post negative or derogatory information about their employers online which can have serious implications for the employer’s reputation in the short space of time it takes for these posts to circulate.

With a number of high profile posts going global and attracting huge media interest, the stakes have never been higher.  This guide provides advice on your options if a defamatory comment is posted about you or your business.

1. Gather proof – collect evidence such as screen shots or print-outs of the offending material.  Any evidence should be gathered legally.  Hacking into a private account to access information would be unlawful.

2. Identify the author – contact the social networking site.  It’s likely they will hold an email address from which it is possible to identify the individual, if this is not known.

3. Remove the material – email the employee to demand that the offending material is removed immediately and that you will be instigating disciplinary proceedings as per the disciplinary procedure.

4. Consider the case carefully – an employee will be successful in defending a defamation claim if he or she can show that:

  • the content of the material was true;
  • the material was an honest opinion on a matter of public interest;
  • there was a legal, moral or social duty which was of public interest.

Pursuing a claim for damages for defamation is expensive and time-consuming for all concerned and is certainly not an easy option.

But there is an alternative.  Implementing a social media policy which is supported by an awareness programme and carefully drafted employment contracts can significantly reduce this risk.  For more information, contact Ramshaw HR @


By Bruce Ramshaw

Principal Consultant

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