The prolific reach of Instagram influencers is undeniable – it’s in the name. However, when it comes to your content centring around commentary on individuals and commercial entities, where is the line drawn between freedom of speech and character assassination?
As a direct result of contemporary ‘call-out culture’ phenomenon, various local social media creators and similar overseas accounts are coming under fire. For example, the heralded Diet Prada is the latest high-profile victim of the phenomenon.
The renowned call-out account is currently the subject of a defamation suit issued by the fashion giant Dolce & Gabbana. With over 2.9 million followers on the Instagram platform, Diet Prada rose to social media fame through its ‘call outs’ on problematic behaviour in individuals and companies within fashion, aiming to ‘hold the fashion industry to a higher ethical standard.’
In a recent Fashion Journal article, Bianca O’Neill details the lawsuit, and what this means for local creators.
To summarise, Dolce & Gabba are seeking approximately €450 million in damages from Diet Prada, stemming from a number of Instagram posts made by the account. The posts made criticised the fashion house’s 2018 advertising campaign for its “stereotypical and sexist depiction of a Chinese woman and revealed anti-Asian remarks originating from Gabbana’s Instagram account.”
Unsurprisingly, the news was not well received by its readers. The brand’s Shanghai show that was planned to go ahead days after the post was cancelled as a result. In conjunction, a public apology was posted on Dolce & Gabbana’s YouTube page. Consequently, the fashion house seeks damages of €8.6 million for the cancellation of the Shanghai show and a further €8.6 million for staff expenditures.
The Asian consumer boycott stemming from Diet Prada’s posts caused another €89.6 million to be claimed for Dolce & Gabbana’s lost revenue from Asian sales between November 2018-March 2019.
Sanicki Lawyers’ own Jonathan was asked about the legal ramifications of this increase in call-out culture on social media in an Australian context. It was noted that in Australia – Diet Prada would have two strong defences available to them in the event of a similarly made defamation claim, with those being the posts representing the ‘substantial truth, or an ‘honest opinion’. Despite this however, Xian adds that caution should still be exercised when posting perceivably inflammatory information on the internet.
“We have acted in many matters involving social media publications,” says Xian. “In most cases, people do not realise that social media publications carry the same weight, in the eyes of the law of defamation, as ‘traditional’ forms of publication, such as newspaper or television.”
“Facebook and Instagram are often seen as a ‘free-for-all’ environment, in which call-out culture prevails and freedom of speech is taken for granted. In reality, due to the ease with which information spreads on social media, defamatory publications made on social media can have far-reaching and highly damaging consequences, which should not be taken lightly.”
The benefits in having such social media accounts to increase inclusivity and hold the industry accountable are clear. However, the law still exists, and is making a proactive effort to keep up with the times.
The conclusion, as best stated by O’Neill herself:
Beware the new world (internet) order: call-out accounts are now king, and there may not be any legal way to silence them. Oh, and delete your old Tweets, for God’s sake.
See the full article here: https://fashionjournal.com.au/life/call-out-accounts-diet-prada/
Feel free to contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions or queries about defamation in general!