What are the Different Types of Defamation?

Lori Smith
Lori Smith
Showing damage to an occupational reputation is one way to prove defamation of character.
Showing damage to an occupational reputation is one way to prove defamation of character.

The two most common types of character defamation are slander and libel. Slander generally occurs when an individual purposely and maliciously lies about another person, or business, to cause emotional or financial harm. Libel is very similar, because the motive for making false statements is often the same, but it generally takes place in the form of publication — like in a newspaper or magazine. Libel can arise in broadcast journalism as well. Individuals who have suffered emotional pain or financial loss because of defamation can sometimes file a lawsuit against the person or media group who commits this wrongdoing.

Spreading malicious rumors about a person or organization can be a form of defamation.
Spreading malicious rumors about a person or organization can be a form of defamation.

Employee defamation can occur when a former employer knowingly makes a false statement intended to keep a past employee from finding work elsewhere. In many jurisdictions, this behavior is against the law. For example, if a prospective employer calls a previous supervisor to inquire about an applicant, and an erroneous, damaging statement is made about the individual, an accusation of slander may ensue. This is particularly harmful when the person is denied a job as a result.

Defamation might occur if incorrect facts are printed about someone in a newspaper.
Defamation might occur if incorrect facts are printed about someone in a newspaper.

Likewise, defamation may occur in the form of slander if a former employee spreads malicious rumors about an organization, or makes incredulous statements about his former boss. For example, if the ex-employee wishes to deter customers from doing business with an establishment, he may claim that the company engages in illegal activities or overcharges customers. These types of false statements could result in a substantial loss of revenue for the organization.

Sharing certain facts in a report can cause defamation.
Sharing certain facts in a report can cause defamation.

If a person publishes a false and/or purposely damaging article in a local newspaper about another, then the defamation may be considered libel. Finally, Internet defamation may transpire if the person publishes such libelous statements online. In any of these cases, defamation may occur when false accusations or reports are spoken or written to cause harm to an individual, group, or establishment.

A lawsuit may be filed by someone who has experienced emotional pain as a result of defamation.
A lawsuit may be filed by someone who has experienced emotional pain as a result of defamation.

Libel can also occur when the media publishes inaccurate, mean-spirited statements about celebrities and other high-profile individuals. For example, if an entertainment publication features an article about a movie star, erroneously claiming that he or she is engaging in an extramarital affair or other scandalous claim, the publication may be guilty of libel. These deceptive statements can be the cause of significant upheavals in the lives and careers of celebrities and their families. As a result, they sometimes file lawsuits against publications that engage in these practices.

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    • Showing damage to an occupational reputation is one way to prove defamation of character.
      By: lightwavemedia
      Showing damage to an occupational reputation is one way to prove defamation of character.
    • Spreading malicious rumors about a person or organization can be a form of defamation.
      By: schwede-photodesign
      Spreading malicious rumors about a person or organization can be a form of defamation.
    • Defamation might occur if incorrect facts are printed about someone in a newspaper.
      By: stocksolutions
      Defamation might occur if incorrect facts are printed about someone in a newspaper.
    • Sharing certain facts in a report can cause defamation.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Sharing certain facts in a report can cause defamation.
    • A lawsuit may be filed by someone who has experienced emotional pain as a result of defamation.
      By: Innovated Captures
      A lawsuit may be filed by someone who has experienced emotional pain as a result of defamation.
    • Libel occurs when a person makes a false, written statement intended to harm another person.
      By: LuckyImages
      Libel occurs when a person makes a false, written statement intended to harm another person.