Israel: Sharing a Post on Social Media May Constitute Defamation. Liking it Will Not.

In a recent decision, the Israeli Supreme Court held that sharing a defamatory post on social media platforms may itself constitute a defamatory re-publication subject to liability under the Israeli Anti-Defamation Law, while merely ‘liking‘ a defamatory post will not give rise to liability. 

The court explained that the definition of “publication” under the law is interpreted broadly to include traditional as well as non-traditional forms of publication. Sharing a publication on social media platforms creates broader exposure to the original publication, presenting it to new members of the public who may not have seen it before. The law intends to balance freedom of expression with a person’s right to protect their reputation. Therefore, imposing liability on a person who intentionally shares a defamatory post strikes the correct balance under the purpose of the law. 

The court further explained that unlike sharing a post, the act of ‘liking’ a post will not attract similar liability because this would have an undesirable chilling effect on free speech on social media platforms. 

The court also indicated that it is aware that its holding may raise concerns for selective enforcement and open the floodgates to frivolous lawsuits, but that the balancing mechanisms established in the law itself will minimize these effects. 

CLICK HERE to read the full decision of the Supreme Court (in Hebrew).