Another Court Says It’s OK To Link To Defamatory Content–Slozer v. Slattery

Another court has ruled that linking to defamatory content isn’t a defamatory republication of the content. I just blogged on a similar result in Life Designs Ranch, Inc. v. Sommer. The only twist here is that the person posted the link to Facebook and then “liked” their own post. Putting aside the social faux pas of liking your own post, the “liking” does not affect the defamation analysis.

The underlying dispute relates to city council politics, and is there any aspect of life more political or thankless than that? The politician-plaintiffs alleged that “Holzhafer’s posting of a link to the allegedly defamatory article accompanied with a ‘like’ designation is sufficient republication of the defamatory statements.” The court rejects the claim:

Holzhafer, by providing a link to the challenged posting, without reiterating the content of that posting did not initiate a republication. Her motivations and her designation of the link with a “like” as alleged by Appellants, is not equivalent to a reiteration of the defamatory content as to constitute republication….[We] conclude that Appellee Holzhafer’s posting a link to the allegedly defamatory website with a “like” designation on her Facebook page, is not a republication of the content of the website sufficient to support a separate cause of action for defamation against her.

As with the Life Designs Ranch case, the court reaches this result purely based on common law without discussing Section 230 or the line of precedent reaching the same result on Section 230 grounds. The court also doesn’t discuss non-defamation cases eliminating liability for “liking” content at Facebook; I think Bland v. Roberts is the flagship case in the area. This ruling extends that canon a bit as well.

Case citation: Slozer v. Slattery, 2015 WL 7282971 (Pa. Superior Ct. Nov. 18, 2015)

Some related posts:

* No Liability for Linking to Defamatory Content–Life Designs Ranch v. Sommer
* Linking to Defamatory Content Protected by Section 230—Vazquez v. Buhl
* Section 230 Immunizes Links to Defamatory Third Party Content–Directory Assistants v. Supermedia
* The First Amendment Protects Facebook “Likes” – Bland v. Roberts