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The differences between defamation, libel and slander

On Behalf of | Jul 4, 2023 | personal injury

Defamation, libel and slander all fall under the same umbrella of untrue accusations or rumors. These terms are very easy to confuse.

Defamation is an umbrella concept for slander and libel.

What is defamation?

Defamation is making false statements in writing, orally or online. It is all about damaging the person’s reputation or character. For defamation to be criminal or actionable, the statement has to be:

  • Malicious
  • Untrue
  • Nonimperical
  • Derogatory in nature

Defamation for public figures is harder to prove and has a higher threshold since they deliberately put themselves in the public eye.

What does a person have to do to prove defamation?

To prove defamation exists, there are several things that a person must prove. These are:

  • The identity of a person whose reputation is in jeopardy
  • Harm to a person’s reputation
  • It is a false statement of fact
  • Actual malice

It can be anything from a statement to a broadcast as long as another person hears or reads it.

What is the difference between slander and libel?

Slander and libel fall under defamation. Libel is a written defamatory statement. Seditious libel is a written statement against the government. It can be written online or in print. If it is against a public figure, it has to involve a complete disregard for the truth.

Slander is a defamatory statement that is spoken rather than written. It can be any false harmful statement. Slander is far more difficult to prove than libel.

Defamation is very serious, and although it is mostly a civil matter, criminal defamation exists.