Jonathan Williams, a student in Jon Pfeiffer’s Fall 2012 Mass Communication Law class at Pepperdine University, wrote the following essay in response to the question “Your ex girlfriend posted lies about you on Facebook, what can and/or should you do?”
If an ex were to post lies on Facebook, one can take many different steps. Probably, the most logical step would be to counter the lies by either commenting on the post with the truth or in some way disprove the lies in a Facebook comment. Also, one could post their own status disproving the ex’s lie. This approach, however, may create a “he said, she said” situation in which people chose to believe their friend or whichever party they trust more regardless of the truth.
Next, one could confront the ex in person or contact the ex to meet and discuss why they posted the lies on Facebook. This approach would most likely prove more beneficial than the first. Sitting down and talking to someone, although awkward and uncomfortable, would create open dialogue in which both parties could discuss their feelings and deduce why the ex posted the lies. Also, this approach could possibly clear up any hard feelings and negativity that caused the ex to post lies on the Internet in the first place.
As far as what someone should do, the most logical approach would be to contact eth ex and talk to her about why she posted the lies and why those lies were upsetting. The worse action one could take would be to cause a “cyber-war” in which both parties were constantly posting lies and comments to “one-up” each other. This method of countering the lies would prove highly immature and cause all of the couple’s Facebook friends to either get involved or get angry with the arguing couple for polluting their Facebook news feed and publicly airing out all of the drama.
Ultimately, one should counter the lies an ex posts on Facebook in a way that is private and responsible. The goal should be to keep drama out of the public sphere and not cause more tension in the future. If one approaches an ex in a mature and calm way, that ex is much more likely to remove the comments and/or not take such action in the future.
Jonathan Williams is a senior at Pepperdine University majoring in film studies and Public Relations.
Jon Pfeiffer is an experienced entertainment and copyright trial attorney practicing in Santa Monica. Jon is also an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California where he teaches Media Law. COM 570 covers First Amendment issues as well as copyright, defamation and privacy.