Internet postings not immune from defamation suits

    An anti-casino activist and a Philadelphia City Councilman are clashing over an online post. The activist called Councilman Frank DiCicco corrupt on a popular blog, and in response, the Councilman has accused the activist of defamation.

    An anti-casino activist and a Philadelphia City Councilman are clashing over an online post. The activist called Councilman Frank DiCicco corrupt on a popular blog, and in response, the Councilman has accused the activist of defamation.

    The incident comes as lawsuits regarding online blog posts and comments on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook are on the rise.

    The courts are filling up with cases trying to define the line between online free speech and defamation.

    Gayle Sproul is a first amendment lawyer.  She says no one is immune from defamation lawsuits, and online comments are coming under increasing scrutiny.

    Sproul: I think people who write on the internet, just like email, tend to write with a little bit more abandon than people in traditional and conservative media do, and those are the kinds of messages that end up being the subject of lawsuits.

    Sproul says public officials, such as DiCicco, have a higher threshold to meet when it comes to showing malice. And she says in this case, the activist appears to be expressing his frustration with the political process rather than accusing the Councilman of a specific incidence of bribery.

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