Recently a social media influencer has been found to have caused serious harm following a series of posts on her social media that she termed as “honest and real.”

In this case, the influencer targeted a well-known baker and business owner, criticising her business’ classification as an essential service during the last level 4 lockdown, and making accusations of child abuse. She reposted the original social media content with commentary on her Instagram profile.

The baker and business owner then applied for relief under the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

Where someone alleges that they have suffered a harmful digital communication, the Court will consider whether there has been a threatened breach, actual breach, or repeated breach of the communication principles, and if the person has suffered harm as a result of the communication.

The Court found that the influencer breached multiple communication principles, including:

  • A digital communication should not be threatening, intimidating, or menacing;
  • A digital communication should not be grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the position of the affected individual;
  • A digital communication should not be used to harass an individual; and
  • A digital communication should not incite or encourage anyone to send a message to an individual for the purpose of causing harm to the individual.

The Court decided the influencer’s posts went beyond expressing her opinions and showed that she was not concerned about the serious emotional distress she caused to the applicant. It imposed an order prohibiting the influencer from posting about the applicant.

The influencer is now appealing this decision.

If you have concerns about harmful online communications, it is wise to speak with a professional experienced in the area about the options that are available to you.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.