Canadian woman ordered to pay ex-boyfriend $200K for social media harassment
A new case in B.C. has served as a bit of a reality check for anyone tempted to seek revenge online after a nasty breakup.
The ex-girlfriend of Vancouverite Brandon Rook was furious after their 2016 breakup, and took to social media and various cheater websites to launch a public smear campaign that included 91 messages and posts made over the course of a year.
Rook's ex, Noelle Halcrow, even posted about him on STD registry sites, popular gossip site The Dirty, and a few business review websites in an attempt to impact his life and career.
"Noelle Halcrow made a series of online posts that claimed Brandon Rook had a sexually transmitted disease that he had not disclosed to partners, that he was unfaithful, a failed businessman and an alcoholic." https://t.co/AXj3RtEjbB— Polar Bear Diaries (@DiariesPolar) January 3, 2020
Unfortunately for her, a judge found her responsible for $200,000 worth of damages for defamation, plus expenses due to her deliberate "spite and animosity" in spreading false statements.
She was also ordered to cover the tens of thousands of dollars Rook had spent on "reputation management consultants" to help fix his professional standing.
"The courts have recognized that the internet can be used as an exceedingly effective tool to harm reputations," B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elliott Myers said at the trial, noting previous legal precedents that awarded similar amounts for similar types of defamation.
Though it's easy to think of platforms like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook as simple extensions of in-person communication, it's prudent to remember next time you want to bash someone online that things written in these forums are public and potentially permanent — as are their consequences — and can be legally recognized as such.
As angry as you may be at someone, taking it online is never a good look.
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