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Cancel culture defamation

Cancel culture defamation

Suing for defamation after being cancelled

Cancel culture often involves elements of harassment and defamation. In many cases, those who promote cancel culture through online posts, tend to attribute to their victim, thoughts, values and actions that the victim simply does not possess, rendering the posts defamatory.

How does cancel culture work

Why cancel culture might be defamatory

Why meaning is so important in English defamation law

Can the words and actions of a cancelling institution be considered defamatory

Discovering who is behind the defamatory posts

Compensations for being cancelled

How does cancel culture work

Cancel culture tends to involve name calling, shaming and other bullying tactics that are designed to cause employers, consumers and the media to discriminate against an individual by boycotting them or the product or service that they represent, often on the ground that the individual’s opinions do not conform to the opinions of those who seek the boycott.

Cancel culture is achieved by threatening institutions or individuals that if they do not succumb to pressures to boycott the victim, they themselves will become the subject of similar tactics. It is the fear of being cancelled that often causes institutions and individuals to succumb to the pressure and to become part of the cancel culture themselves.

Cancel Culture & Defamation FAQ

Cancel culture often involves name-calling, shaming, and bullying tactics designed to cause institutions or individuals to boycott the victim, typically on the grounds that their opinions do not conform to the aggressors'. This is achieved through threatening repercussions for not participating in the boycott, and often involves attributing false thoughts, values, or actions to the victim, which can be defamatory.

English defamation law is concerned with the meaning attributed to words rather than the words themselves. In cancel culture scenarios, a victim's statements or opinions can be perverted or manipulated to fit a negative narrative. If the attributed meaning significantly distorts the victim's actual views or statements, it may be considered defamatory under English law.

Yes. If an institution acts upon unfounded allegations by cancelling or publicly distancing itself from an individual based on misrepresented or false accusations, it may also be committing defamation. Statements implying that actions were taken due to the individual's alleged but false views or actions can be defamatory, and the institution may be liable for defamation alongside the original defamer.

Unmasking the identity of anonymous internet trolls or users behind defamatory posts often involves legal processes. Specialist solicitors can apply for a disclosure order through the courts, compelling social media companies, internet service providers, and institutions to release personal information about the defaming individual. This is often a crucial step in bringing the responsible parties to justice.

Victims of defamatory cancel culture can seek compensation for reputational and financial losses. If it is established that the cancellation involved defamation of character, victims can demand public apologies and monetary damages from those responsible. The amount of compensation can be substantial, depending on the severity and impact of the defamation.

Why cancel culture might be defamatory

In order to achieve the cancellation or the boycott of cancel culture victim, the members of the pressure groups tend to attribute to the victim, thoughts, values and actions that the victim simply does not possess. In many cases, they pervert or manipulate the victim’s opinions so that it fits into a narrative of racism, sexism, hate or discrimination. To achieve this, they turn legitimate opinions into illegitimate ones by attributing negative, and often defamatory meanings to the victim’s views. rendering the posts defamatory.

Why meaning is so important in English defamation law

Defamation law in England, is more concerned with the meaning of the words rather than with the words themselves. If, for example, the victim of the cancel culture has made a public statement, in a blog post or a tweet and the view they expressed was then given a different meaning by those who sought to smear them, the perverted meaning of their original words could be considered defamatory.

For example, if a celebrity, who is known for her Christian views, had posted in a blog post about her beliefs that the marriage institution has traditionally been an engagement between a man and a woman and that she still supports this view, any attempt to denounce her as homophobic, or as someone who has homophobic views, may be considered defamatory under English defamation law.

Can the words and actions of a cancelling institution be considered defamatory

Whilst the original unfounded allegations that a particular celebrity is homophobic may be considered as defamation of character, the institution that follows up on those allegations might also be committing a wrongdoing by cancelling the celebrity or by making defamatory public statements. An example of this might be a statement that declares that due to the celebrity’s homophobic views, or due to complaints about the celebrity’s homophobic views, the institution had decided to terminate its engagement with them.

Whilst the original defamatory allegations might have started a chain of events, the victim of the cancel culture might be able to pursue legal action for defamation against both, the originator of the defamatory statement and the institution that repeated it. In fact, because the institution’s repetition of the defamatory allegations is likely to carry a greater degree of credibility and reach a far bigger audience, the liability of the institution for defamation towards the victim of the cancel culture could be far greater than that of the individual who instigated the institution’ actions.

Discovering who is behind the defamatory posts

Defamatory posts that lead to reputational and financial loss to the cancel culture victim, often are instigated by internet users or by internet trolls who hide behind a keyboard and who use a pseudonym to conceal their true identity. The same individuals might be responsible for sending or posting complaints to the institution about the cancelled victim. In most cases, it is possible, with some effort, to unravel the identity of those individuals and bring them to justice.

Unmasking internet trolls is nearly always possible. This is most often done with the help of a specialist solicitor who would apply for a disclosure order through the courts, which will compel social media companies, internet service providers and the receiving institution to hand over personal information of the defaming individual. In most cases, this could be done very quickly and on the legal basis that the posts might be considered defamatory later on, should the matter proceed to full legal proceedings.

Compensations for being cancelled

If, as it is in many cases, the facts reveal that the cancelling of an individual involved the defamation of character, the victim will most likely be able to reclaim her reputation by demanding that those responsible for the defamation provide a public apology and pay damages for the losses that resulted from their defamatory imputations. These might be substantial.

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