Emily Liao has been ordered to pay $115,000 in damages for a year-long defamation attack against a photographer and her business. Liao hired Kitty Chan, owner of Amara Wedding, to take photographs of her wedding in 2015. Liao had agreed to pay $6,000 for the wedding package. Just a few days before the wedding Liano saw her pre-wedding photos and did not like them. Liao canceled with Chan and issued a stop payment on the check.

Liao thought she was still entitled to the pre-wedding photos and videos without payment and tried to obtain them from Chan.

Amara Wedding refused to release the photos without payment. Liao had tried taking Chan and her business to small claims court and lost the case. That is when she started trolling Chan online.

Emily Liao was relentless in her posts against Chan. She not only used her own account but also created other accounts with fake names. Liao went out of her way, telling people that Kitty Chan was a fraud, liar, and extortionist. Chan started losing business as a result of the slander. According to CTV News Vancouver, Amara Wedding had to close in 2017, leaving employees with no job.

In the court ruling, Justice Gordon Weatherill of the B.C. Supreme Court stated, “Liao used the internet so her views would be widely read and caused “as much damage as possible” to Chan’s reputation and business,” reported the Toronto Star Justice Weatherill continued to state,” Liao and others who think it is acceptable to use the internet as a vehicle to vent their frustrations, must be given the message that there will be consequences if their publications are defamatory,” via the Toronto Star.

Defamation cases

There have been a growing number of defamation cases in recent years. In 2016, Douglas James Pritchard and Katherine Anne Van Nes had been neighbors. Prichard, a school teacher, had placed cameras around his home for security purposes. Van Nes didn’t like it and began making comments on Facebook about Prichard.

She made claims that he was a child molester to the Facebook community. Prichard filed a Notice of Civil Claim against Van Nes.The judge in the case ruled in Prichard’s favor and he won $65,000, according to court documents.

In another case, one post in 2017 on Facebook cost Jacquelyn Hammond $500,000. Hammond and Davyne Dial had been co-workers at a North Carolina radio station when Hammond blamed Dial for killing her own son.

Hammond accused Dial of drinking and driving which led to the death of the child. It was a fabricated story. Dial did lose her 11-year-old son but he had died in 1976, during a shooting, according to Citizens Times.

Just liking defamatory comments cost one Facebook user $4,100. The Facebook user's name has been left out. This is the first case in the courts for just liking a post. The man is appealing the case in Swiss courts, via the Guardian.

Free speech

The right to free speech is a civil right that seems to be taken for granted. Every person has the right to express their thoughts and opinions about anything they want. Free speech is a privilege that some people do not have. It is in no way meant to allow an individual or a Group Of People the right to lie about someone and spread rumors.

It also does not give an individual the right to harass and ruin someone's career by slandering them or the right to entice violence against a person or a group of individuals.

Many people have assumed that being on a social media platform and hiding behind fake accounts makes them not accountable for their actions. These people are very accountable. As technology and social media continue to grow, courts around the world will likely hear more defamation cases.