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.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…