“Nonetheless, although the respondents come close to asserting – but do not quite assert – that “anything goes” in these types of exchanges, is that the case in law? Do different legal considerations apply in determining whether a statement is or is not defamatory in these kinds of situations than apply to the publication of an article in a traditional media outlet? For that matter, do different considerations apply even within publications on the internet – to a publication on Facebook or in the “Twitterverse”, say, compared to a publication on a blog? “
Baglow v. Smith, 2012 ONCA 407, para 28
Context is important. In the Dr. Dawg case a well known left leaning blogger (full disclosure, someone I have dealt with on-line and respect) was called “one of the Taliban’s more vocal supporters” during a flame war.
Without question, if this was a statement made in an opinion piece in, say, the Toronto Star the statement would be actionable. But the Court raises the question, if on the blogosphere there is a “broad range of tolerance for hyperbolic language” perhaps comments like the one in question are not actionable?
The Court declined to decide saying there weren’t enough facts to conclude one way or the other.
Certainly I get insults on-line that don’t trouble me but would make my blood boil if made face-to-face. On the other hand, just because someone is left leaning does not mean they are a Taliban supporter (and I note the Taliban are not, shall we say, progressive).
Stay tuned – the case will continue… .