One of the dangers of online hostility isn’t just the damage that can be inflicted by the communications’ specific content, but the fact that these communications, even when they are factually incorrect or defamatory, are, by virtue of being published online, instantaneously disseminated around the world without possibility of retraction.
According to legal information firm Sweet and Maxwell, over double the number of libel claimants in the U.K. cited material published on the internet in their legal actions compared to the number of cases from the previous year.
Media barrister Korieh Duodu says that the problem stems in part from the fact that “much material on the internet is written by non-professionals without any of the fact-checking in traditional media organisations.”
“People who find themselves damaged on social media sites can often find it time-consuming and difficult to have the offending material removed, because many platform providers do not accept responsibility for their users’ content.
Such is the speed at which information travels through social networks that one unchecked comment can spread into the mainstream media within minutes, which can cause irreparable damage to the subject who has been wronged.”