Bowie, MD asked in Personal Injury and Libel & Slander for Maryland

Q: I’m making a YouTube video talking about what my ex did to me in our relationship. Not using his name, could I get sued?

Could o be sued for defamation of character even tho I’m not using his name in my videos?

1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: (1) Truth is a complete defense to a suit for defamation/libel. Revealing private medial or health information about someone, or their SSN or other private personal information, may give rise to a invasion of privacy or harassment claim, even if the statements are true.

(2) Defamatory statements (knowingly or recklessly false statements that disparage another) are actionable if you communicate those statements to a third person and that person can readily identify whom you are referring to; therefore, not naming your ex when describing a person and events that clearly identifies whom you are talking about is the same as naming that person. While strangers may not figure out who it is, anybody who knows you and your ex obviously would know who is the subject of your video. But again, truth is a complete defense.

(3) Even if you believe your statements to be true, if they are denied by the subject of those statements, that person may still sue you and you may be in a he-said/she-said scenario. See, e.g., Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. Both claimed to be telling the truth about their relationship; neither agreed with the other as to what the truth was, and libel and defamation suits followed.

(4) What you put out on the internet is forever, and can quickly go viral, so be prepared for whatever backlash and notoriety that a public airing of personal grievances and bad experiences may unleash, including things you haven't even imagined yet. For instance, will current and future employers be warned off by such raw personal media and personal drama that may be associated with you? Today's younger generations have grown up putting their social and personal lives on display unlike anything that has gone on in prior generations. Whether that is overall a good or bad thing is up to each person to decide, and why people do it is beyond me, but publicly putting it out there is just that: public. Once it's out there, you will lose control over how people use and react to it.

(5) This is not legal advice: Perhaps making this video helps you deal with a traumatic experience, and is cathartic and part of your healing process. But, maybe, publicizing it for all the world to see, and all your and your ex's family, friends and colleagues to see, will have a different and perhaps damaging effect, for you and others. Take a deep breath before posting the video, maybe shelve it for a couple weeks. Decide after that time whether your need to air this video publicly is still as great as it seems today, and what you hope to achieve by it.

(6) If you ask a lawyer whether you should publish something that may invite a lawsuit, then the advice will be don't, or do so fully aware of the risks and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

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