An act of communication (whether written or oral) that damages the reputation, character, or good name of another. Slander (spoken false statements) and libel (written false statements, including statements published on the internet) are both forms of defamation. State law governs this cause of action, and the requirements for making a defamation claim generally vary from state to state.

Though the standard varies, most states generally follow the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 558, which outlines the elements of a defamation claim:

  • A false and defamatory statement concerning another.

  • An unprivileged publication to a third party.

  • Fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher.

  • Either actionability of the statement irrespective of special harm or the existence of special harm caused by the publication.

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