Why Trust Techopedia

What Does Cyberlibel Mean?

Cyberlibel is any inaccurately or injuriously written defamation triggered via electronic means, including the Internet, social media, email and websites. Cyberlibel creates instant and irrevokable reputation damage.


Like common law libel, cyberlibel is defamatory, shared with at least one third party and plainly identifies victim(s). Defenses include "fair comment," "truth in statement/justification" or, less frequently, "qualified privilege."

Cyberlibel should not be confused with slander.

Techopedia Explains Cyberlibel

This 150 year-old definition of libel is a North American standard:

A publication, without justification, which is calculated to injure the reputation of another person by exposing them to hatred, contempt or ridicule. (Parke, B. in Parmiter v. Coupland (1840)

In the U.S. and worldwide, cyberlibel is a new and ambiguous concept. Because justifying cyberlibel requires total Internet regulation, controversy – often contradictory – surrounds libel responsibilities for all Web publishers.

Cyberlibel is a sticky issue because cyberspace is a breeding ground for libel without boundaries. Cyberspace is a global forum buffered by anonymity and minimal, if any, protection against cyberlibel activities. When proven, legal ramifications are severe.

Cyberlibel advocates argue that electronic data regulations and legislation undermine freedom of speech.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.