Communication and reputation on the web: social networks have ultimately become the ‘viral’ environment for online defamation

Nowadays the protection of our online identity and reputation runs on the edge of social networks. Indeed, over the last few months news came one after another about judicial measures on defamation occurred via the internet, more and more often regarding cases originating from communication and interaction among web surfers within the environment of social-networking sites.

Such ‘viral’ nature (to use a term grown increasingly popular among the internet users) of the social-network environment has now been ratified — after a number of decisions issued by many lower courts — also by the Italian Supreme Court of Cassation with decision no. 12761/14 of its First Criminal Division, which indeed had a huge echo in media reports all over the country.

In particular, the decision of the Supreme Court has finally clarified certain issues on which, so far, lower courts seemed to lack sufficient confidence, revealing themselves as to being somehow ‘puzzled’ by the peculiarities of the means of communication used by web surfers in the ‘social’ environment in comparison with the generalised reality of the internet, which courts had already widely dealt with in respect of e-newspapers at first and then of blogs, forums and traditional sharing and aggregation portals…

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