Who knew you could actually sue someone over a Facebook Post?
In a continuation of a saga which many netizens termed a PR disaster, Orchard Gateway dessert kiosk Fantasy Desserts has sent a lawyer’s letter to a customer who posted a 2-star review on their Facebook page.
You can read about the saga here.
A customer left a 2-star review on Fantasy Dessert’s Facebook page criticising their customer service, quality of food and price range.
A representative responded with her own personal FB account threatening to sue the customer for defamation, and the two parties went on in a back-and-forth quarrel that escalated to embarrassing proportions.
Turns out that Fantasy Dessert actually followed up on their threat.
The representative, a self-proclaimed luxury blogger herself, Sara Shantelle Lim, posted a snippet of the lawyer’s letter sent to Celena Ho, the customer, yesterday (1 Feb), on her personal FB account.
Our clients opine that the 28 January Post contained statements/comments/ insinuations/allegations that were defamatory in nature, inter alia:-
a. “cheap sugary candies”;
b. “treating your customers like dirt”;
c. “… I believe my tastebuds and judgment should not be ridiculed in such a manner!!!”;
d. “I guess that’s how they maintain “positive” reviews on their page”; and
e. “pays bloggers for positive reviews”.
(collectively and henceforth the “Defamatory Content”)The letter was dated Jan 29, and asked for Ho’s Facebook posts be retracted by Jan 30.
As of 1 Feb, Ho’s Facebook post and profile are no longer on Facebook. It is not known if she removed them of her own will, though it is likely she did to avoid the legal complications and drama that would come with a lawsuit.
The post criticising Fantasy Desserts was last seen with over 800 shares on it.
It has not been announced if Fantasy Desserts will be taking any follow up action.
Social Media Defamation
In Singapore, it is in fact possible to be sued over social media defamation.
Below is an excerpt from an article by Farallon Law Corporation:
- The legal principles relating to Facebook and social media defamation are similar to the rules that relate to normal defamation.
- Defamation is actionable even if you posted a photo, or commented on a photo or post.
- When it comes to internet defamation, the defamation may spread outside Singapore if the readers of the defamatory words are located outside Singapore.
- The time and extent of the publication would affect the amount of damages which the claimant can claim from you.
- Sharing a defamatory post (for example, by “retweeting” a tweet), can also render you liable for defamation.
- It is a good defence to a claim for social media defamation if what you said was true, was fair comment on a matter of public interest or was made as a matter of qualified privilege
Hence, all else considered, Celena Ho’s move to remove her Facebook post was likely in her best interests, regardless of the probability Fantasy Desserts had of winning the case.
In any case, damage was already done from the poor PR handling of the situation.