Name and shame others online.
Have you ever named and shamed somebody online, or been tempted to, or have you ever encouraged somebody else to? You need to be careful with this, because as the name suggests the reason for making it publicly known, is to lower people’s impression of the person who you’re posting about. It might be something true that you’re posting, but you have to be really careful, because in Australia, not every state has truth as a defense to defamation. In other countries it may differ, and if you’re naming and shaming on the internet, people from other countries can access the material, so it might be defamation in another country.
If you’re encouraging people to name and shame others online, be careful because you could be taken to have given them legal advice. If someone relies on your advice, they could then sue you, if they followed advice and got sued for defamation as a result and it could be tens of thousands of dollars. I was in a business group on Facebook the other day and I saw a lady who had paid a man to take videos of her course and she was very unhappy with it.
She was saying that the videos were terrible quality and that she’d paid him a lot of money, which he then refused to refund. On the one hand she really wanted a refund, but then on the other hand she was debating whether she should let everybody know what he had done to her? She was asking people in the group whether they wanted to know who he was and a lot of people said, “Yes, tell us I don’t want to use the same guy.” but a lot of people said, “Name and shame him, name and shame him.” It becomes a little bit like a mob mentality.
The reality is, that if you do go ahead and name and shame that guy, even if he did completely mess it up, you could be opening yourself up to defamation. So in that situation the answer to her question is, no, don’t name and shame him, instead take him to court, go to mediation, or go to QCAT If you’re in Queensland. The process is simple, small businesses use it all the time to recover money. If he hasn’t provided what he promised then something like QCAT is really the solution and is better than risking your own livelihood, your own money, and your own reputation by being on the wrong side of a defamation action. So my advice is don’t name and shame and definitely don’t encourage others to do it online. My name is Cathryn Warburton and I’m the Legal Lioness.