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Dog Walker Victim of Social Media Troll Wins Substantial Damages

Some social media users persist in the belief that they can hide behind anonymity and publish false and wounding accusations online with complete impunity. The falsity of such assumptions was, however, laid bare by a case in which an Internet troll was ordered to pay her victim substantial compensation.

Following an angry confrontation, the woman posted videos of an innocent dog walker online and accused her of abusing her pet. The posts were widely viewed and triggered a torrent of online abuse and threats of violence. The victim said that her reputation in her local community was damaged so severely that she had to leave her job and even her hairdresser turned away her custom.

After the victim contacted solicitors, they succeeded in tracing the woman although she had made the posts anonymously. The High Court found that the posts were defamatory and amounted to harassment. She was ordered to pay the victim more than £55,000 in damages and interest, together with her legal costs.

In ruling on the matter, the Court noted that it was a sad reflection of modern life that some people are prepared to be so-called keyboard warriors, and are willing to post abusive, violent and menacing messages online in circumstances where they would probably not behave in a similar manner face to face in the real world.

The Court observed that the case serves as a valuable lesson to those who think they can wage campaigns of abuse or persecution online without consequences. It is generally easy to unmask anonymous social media users, and those who believe that the law is impotent in tackling online misbehaviour are mistaken.



 
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