Defamation Vs False Light: What You Need To Know

Has someone made statements about you that could harm your reputation? Are you dealing with the fact that others have a negative opinion of you because of the statements made about you? If this is the case, you may have a valid claim to compensation. This article will discuss defamation and false light in order to help you determine which one applies to you.


Defamation is characterized by harmful statements made by one individual about another. These statements are designed to destroy a person's reputation.

There are two types of defamation, libel and slander. Libel refers to publicly made statements that are recorded. This can include statements made in film, radio, print, or online. Slander refers to statements that are not made publicly.

There are four factors that must be true in order for statements to be considered defamatory:

  • The statement must be published. This means that the statement was made in front of people other than the person uttering the statement and you.
  • The statement has to be false. If what the person said about you is true, it won't constitute defamation no matter how damaging it is to your reputation.
  • The statement must actually be damaging. This means that you must show that the statements harmed your reputation. Some of the consequences of defamation can include lost income, difficulty finding work, or being harassed by reporters.
  • The statements cannot be privileged. Privileged statements are statements that are uttered in a courtroom setting. If someone makes false statements about you in a trial, they cannot be held liable. Of course, if it is found that the person knew the statements were false, they could be convicted of perjury.

False Light Invasion Of Privacy

False light invasion of privacy is similar to defamation, but not quite the same. False light is characterized by information or images being published about you that paints you in a negative light.

False light can manifest in three different ways:

  • Embellishment – Adding false information to a story that makes you look bad.
  • Distortion – Arranging information or other materials in a way that gives others a false impression of you.
  • Fictionalization – Referencing fictional characters or stories that are meant to reference real people.

What You Should Do

If you suspect that your reputation is being damaged by the words of another, you should figure out whether or not it constitutes false light or defamation. Consult with a personal injury attorney, like Smith, Dickey, Dempster, who can help you with your case. 

About Me