“Tweeting” To a Defamation Action

I first heard about this lawsuit on NPR and thought that it was fascinating.  In just a few short words posted on Twitter, “You should just come anyway…Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s OK,” a tenant of said Horizon Realty has found herself defending a defamation action.

The plaintiff corporation is stating that the statement was available to the public to be read by anyone in the world and damaged the corporations reputation.  Is this a textbook defamation action? 

  • Was the woman’s “tweet” truly a publishing?  Or is Twitter more like a chat between friends in which one happens to be airing out grievances?
  • How many people truly read or were aware of the tweet (at least before the lawsuit)?
  • And was the company truly damaged? 

All interesting questions that could have serious implications on the way we use the internet and social websites like twitter.  As discussed in my post, The State of Illegally Downloaded Music, the internet is creating serious problems for people who are using websites the same way that millions of others are.  Seemingly innocent behavior with no malicious intent on the internet, might actually lead to both civil and criminal penalty.