Defamation on facebook: Isparta V Richter 2013 6 SA 529 (GP)

  • A Roos
  • M Slabbert


Litigation involving social media is still very new in South Africa and only a few reported cases can be found. In this case discussion, a brief overview is given of the few cases already reported, but in the main the case of  Isparta v Richter 2013 6 SA 4529 (GP) is discussed. In this case a South African court for the first time awarded damages to the plaintiff for  defamatory comments made on Facebook. The questions that confronted the judge were whether the alleged defamatory statements did indeed  relate to the plaintiff and whether the comments, individually or collectively, could be considered defamatory. The issue whether the "tagging" of  another user of Facebook makes that user liable for the defamatory  comments of the tagger is also addressed in the case. The case discussion concludes with a reference to other issues that could play a role in litigation involving Facebook, namely the Electronic Communications and  Transactions Act 25 of 2002 and foreign law.

KEYWORDS: Applicable law; apology; boni mores; defamation; ECT Act; electronic media; Facebook; fair comment; freedom of expression; freedom of speech; grounds of justification; harmful content; intent; internet; internet service provider liability; interdict; jurisdiction; Mxit; reasonable publication; reputation; privilege; social media; social networking service; takedown-notification; wrongfulness.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-3781