This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney. You should consult an attorney if you have questions or need legal guidance.
RealSelf is a community where consumers can share opinions and experiences. It’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a consumer when talking about an experience or sharing an opinion online.
You have the right to say what you think about something. Even if someone does not agree with your opinion, you are allowed to share it.
Libel (or defamation) is an untrue public statement that is damaging to a person’s or business’s reputation. The important word here is "untrue" -- If you lie about something that happened, and it causes harm to someone else, you may be liable.
You can… tell the truth and share your opinion.
You can't… tell lies or break the law.
Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) occur when someone files a lawsuit for the sole purpose of intimidating or causing a financial burden. The goal of a SLAPP lawsuit is not to win in court, but to achieve something simply by filing the lawsuit.
Each state offers different protections against SLAPPs. Some states offer no protection at all. The United States has no federal anti-SLAPP law.
How to protect yourself
Consumers can protect themselves from SLAPP by telling the truth; if you have done nothing wrong, there is no justification for a lawsuit. You should also research anti-SLAPP statutes in your state, as they vary widely.
It’s illegal to threaten, harass or intimidate someone online. It’s also a violation of RealSelf's Code of Conduct and Terms of Service.
Blackmail & Extortion
It’s illegal to demand that someone pay you in return for you doing, or not doing, something.
This list is not exhaustive. Anything that is illegal in "real life" is likely also illegal on the Internet. Use common sense and don’t hurt other people. If someone is threatening or hurting you, please report it to us.