NEWS of a new deal between Twitter and Google to make Twitter’s 140-character updates more searchable may heighten the risks of defamation proceedings arising out of family law disputes, according to a leading Sydney-based law firm.
Under the deal, which was announced on 5 February 2015, tweets will soon be visible in Google’s search results as soon as they are posted.
This development has attracted concern from the country’s leading family law practitioners, who often have to manage the fallout of their clients’ emotion-driven posts on social media.
“Successful defamation proceedings have been brought in the past by parties involved in family law disputes for posts on Facebook or Twitter,” said Louise Cassar, the Director of the Family Law Division at Levitt Robinson Solicitors.
“The deal between Twitter and Google means that emotionally-driven tweets will cause even more damage than before.”
Ms Cassar reminded people in family law disputes to think before they hit the “post” button on social media apps or websites.
“Being upset does not provide a defence in defamation proceedings,” Ms Cassar said.
“People in family law proceedings need to think before they speak, count before they act and think of the potential defamation proceedings they will have to defend before they press the ‘post’ button.
“Otherwise they will just be increasing the monetary and emotional cost of their family law proceedings.”
Ms Cassar said the three elements of high emotion, access to the internet, and alcohol create a volatile mix which usually results in parties to a family law dispute falling foul of the law.
“Identifying and being advised how to manage the combination of these three factors can go a long way to side stepping unwanted, unnecessary and costly additional litigation,” Mr Cassar said.