Untruths on Facebook indeed unacceptable

2020-01-29 06:01
Veruska van Wyk

Veruska van Wyk

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Question:

My company recently bought products from a local store.

They sent the invoice, but the details and VAT number were incorrect. We asked them to correct it, as our bookkeeper said we could not pay with an incorrect invoice.

In the meantime, we saw that the store had started posting comments on Facebook saying our business was bankrupt and that we do not pay our accounts and people should stay away from us.

I contacted the store to remove the posts, but they refused and said they would do so when we paid.

Surely this is completely unacceptable. What can we do?

Answer:

“My company recently bought products from a local store. They sent the invoice, but the invoice details and VAT number was incorrect, and we asked them to correct it as our bookkeeper said we can’t pay until a correct invoice was received.

In the meantime, we now see that the store started posting comments on Facebook saying our business was bankrupt and that we don’t pay our accounts and people should stay away from us. I contacted the store to remove the posts, but they refused and said they would only do so when we paid their account.

Surely this is completely unacceptable conduct! What can we do?”

Two fundamental rights contained in the Bill of Rights play a role in this regard: the right to human dignity (section 10 of the Constitution) and the right to freedom of expression (section 16 of the Constitution).

The right to freedom of expression can never be unlimited, because it must be balanced against other rights such as the right to human dignity. This means no one has an unlimited freedom of speech. It is at the juncture of these two rights that our law of defamation lies.

Defamation has been defined as the intentional infringement of another person’s right to his good name and as the wrongful, intentional publication of words or behaviour concerning another person which has the effect of injuring his status or reputation.

Even juristic persons have a right to dignity, meaning that the dignity of your business can be infringed, and it also has a right to a good name.

A defamatory publication about a business which is false or untrue can therefore also constitute grounds for defamation.

In short, conduct such as the posting of untruths on Facebook to extort payment is unacceptable, and you would be advised to contact your attorney to assist you to formally respond to the store to cease and remove their posts and to advise you on the potential for succeeding in a claim of defamation against the store.

Veruska van Wyk, associate, Phatshoane Henney Attorneys

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.