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David Mangan

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Labour; Employment; Tort; Defamation; Social Media; United Kingdom; Canada


The common law engages with social media in a manner that overlaps with defamation: seeking to balance the competing interests of free speech and protection of reputation. Employment law prompts a question as to how the law on this topic is developing. Adjudication of the concept of business reputation is the comparative focal point. Canadian employment law is developing a balance between protecting business reputation and workers’ free speech (though there are issues arising therein). In the UK, however, the term has been more of a blunt tool. As a result, a juxtaposition has arisen: speech in traditional media is better protected than that of workers using virtual social platforms. Using the contrasting case law as an example, the argument pursued here is that law must develop in a manner that establishes scope for remarks by workers on user-generated content platforms while protecting business reputation. To permit discipline for any form of social media remark would be inconsistent with the spirit of twenty-first century defamation law that has expanded protection for speech.