Online harm

Do you know the difference between…


The terms libel, slander and defamation are often used interchangeably in everyday use.  But what do these terms actually mean and what is the difference between them?

The law of defamation is the overarching term that includes both libel and slander. Both libel and slander relate to an attack on a person or an organisation’s reputation by the publication of defamatory material.

As a general rule, libel occurs where the defamation is in a permanent form and slander occurs where the defamation is in a transient form. Libel applies where the words complained of are in print or written down or published in permanent form.  This includes defamatory newspaper articles, online posts, television programmes and videos. Slander applies where the words complained of are transient in nature such as spoken words. So, for example, a defamatory social media post may be libellous whereas accusations made by someone during a meeting may be slanderous.

Material is defamatory if it tends to “lower the Claimant in the reputation of right-thinking members of society generally” and has caused, or is capable of causing, serious harm to the Claimant’s reputation, amongst other requirements. The Claimant is the person whose reputation has been attacked.

However, defamation is not limited to words. Visual forms such as photographs, paintings and physical gestures can also be regarded as defamatory. In fact, in a case in 1894 against Madame Tussauds museum where a waxwork of the Claimant holding a gun had been placed next to the “Chamber of Horrors” the Court of Appeal held that a statue, caricature, sign or picture – and therefore, a wax figure – may also give rise to libel.

For advice on all types of defamation issues including both libel and slander please contact Laura Baglow from NetRights at or on 020 7698 4427 or see for more information.

Has your personal information been published online without your permission?

It can be extremely upsetting to discover that your personal information has been published online without your permission.

Perhaps your bank details or other financial details are now visible for all to see or even your medical information or details of your address. It could be that a photograph of you or your child or of your home has been posted on social media. Or perhaps some drone footage of your house.

Whatever it is, the chances are that you may not be happy having this information available to the general public. However, you do not have to just put up with the situation.

NetRights can take urgent steps, via legal proceedings if necessary, to seek removal of your personal information from the internet and/or links to it and further postings. In most cases successful results can be achieved by sending legal letters to the person that posted the information or to the social media site, without the need for legal proceedings.

Contact NetRights now on 0207 698 4427 for further information and a free telephone consultation and cost estimate.

Staying safer in video meetings

There has been a dramatic surge in the popularity of remote videoconferencing in recent months. Meetings in person have not been possible due to social distancing requirements so video meetings have been the next best way to keep in touch.  Remote meeting systems have proved to be valuable tools to help companies to operate whilst many staff are working from home. They have also been vital forms of communication for separated families and friends wishing to stay in contact with each other throughout the lockdown

However, use of video conferencing facilities can expose you and your company to risk. There have been cases of unauthorised people hijacking meetings where the platform has not been used securely and there is an increased risk of phishing.

To help protect yourself, your family and your staff, consider the following precautions:

  • Do not leave video meeting settings as “public”.
  • Set screen sharing to “host only”.
  • Send meeting links directly to the people you are inviting to attend the meeting, rather than posting or sharing links on social media that could be available to other or the general public. Only allow signed in users to participate.
  • Meeting hosts should set a password for access to the remote meeting or use the platform to control who is permitted to attend the meeting.
  • Use ‘waiting room’ facilities to screen participants before they are allowed to enter your meeting.
  • ‘Lock’ your meeting after all the expected participants have joined to avoid unwanted intruders.
  • Avoid file sharing with any users that you don’t recognise.
  • Where possible avoid referring to confidential or private information.
  • Make sure that you and your fellow meeting attendees keep video meeting applications fully updated.
  • Ensure that your firm’s information security policies deal with appropriate use of remote working systems.


The use of remote video conferencing facilities will always carry a degree of risk due to the nature of the platform, but these considerations should help you to avoid becoming a target.

NetRights is the Social Media, Internet and Media Law department of Parnalls Solicitors. For legal advice regarding breaches of confidential or private information, please contact NetRights at or telephone 01566 772375.

The contents of this article are for purposes of general awareness only and do not constitute legal or professional advice.

Would you like to publish online with minimal legal risk?

Do you want to publish a controversial story or statement online or in the press? Or are you going to publish a book or magazine or video? Are you concerned about legal risks such as defamation, breach of confidence, infringement of privacy or trademark or copyright infringement?

Our experienced media lawyer has helped to safely publish and broadcast controversial articles for newspapers and magazines as well as television programmes for Channel 4.

Our aim is to enable you to say all the things that you want to say, but in a way that does not expose you to unnecessary legal risk. We will work closely with you to ensure that whatever it is that you wish to publish, gets published safely.

Contact NetRights on 0207 698 4427 or for a no commitment fixed cost estimate.

Increased risk of online harm

As people are spending more time at home at the moment this means that more time is also being spent online.

This has its advantages, from enabling us to keep up to date with essential news to online shopping and staying in regular contact with family and friends. Social media use is on the increase with people searching for other ways to keep themselves entertained.

However, there is a darker side to this increased online activity, with more people turning to vindictive or malicious social media posts such as:

Revenge porn

Revenge porn is where intimate photos or videos of someone are shared online without their permission.  Often the sharer is a disgruntled ex-partner.  The government’s Revenge Porn Helpline* has reported increased number of calls from victims of intimate image abuse during the lockdown period. It is believed that both the increase in social media use and the heightened emotions at this time are responsible, with revenge porn often originating from controlling or abusive relationships.

Trolling and harassment

It is an unfortunate reality that people can feel more disinhibited when they are online and may engage in unacceptable behaviour that they might not contemplate in person. It is also easier for people to let their emotions get the better of them and make a malicious post in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, disgruntled people can turn to social media to target their victims and this can lead to repeated online insults, provocations or even threats.

False or malicious online posts

Some people decide to publicly air their personal grudges or grievances online or are even just motivated by boredom.  This can lead to false or malicious social media posts that attack the reputation of an individual or a company.

If you are on the receiving end of any of these activities, then we know that it can be deeply distressing as well as damaging to your reputation.


For help with any of the above issues, including seeking removal of online posts, please contact Laura Baglow at NetRights on 0207 698 4427.


*The government’s Revenge Porn Helpline number is 0345 6000459 and the Samaritans can be contacted at 116 123 or by email to

Have nude photos of you or your teenager been posted online?

It can be devastating to discover that intimate pictures of you or your teenage son or daughter have been shared online. Unfortunately, not all relationships or friendships last the distance and not every ex-partner deals with a relationship breakup well. Sometimes people will publish or threaten to publish online intimate photographs or videos that they obtained during the relationship as a way of causing distress or embarrassment to their former partner. This unauthorised sharing of private sexual photos or videos is called “revenge porn” and is a behaviour that is on the increase, particularly amongst young adults. It can cause great upset, distress and embarrassment to its victims and their families.

Is your reputation being threatened?

Has someone threatened to post something about you online? Or has a journalist been in touch about an article they intend to publish about you? Unfortunately, sometimes a business competitor, an ex-employee, an ex-partner, someone you have met in your personal life or even a member of the public can post malicious or false posts about you online for all the world to see. If you are a public figure or a high profile company you may be more likely to be the subject of negative media interest.

New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow

On 1 October 2019, the Civil Procedure Rules will be amended to create a new formally designated specialist Media and Communications list in the Queen’s Bench Division. From this date onwards all High Court claims that include a claim for defamation, misuse of private information, data protection and/or harassment by publication must be issued in the new list. New procedural rules will also apply to media and communications cases, including a pre-action protocol. This development reflects the growing increase in media claims in the Courts, after the decline of past decades.