Courtney Love Digs Herself a Hole Over Social Media Rants
Courtney Love has once again been sued for defamation for her rants on social media.
This is the third time Love’s overactive mouth has been the subject of a defamation lawsuit.
Three years ago, fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir, aka “The Boudoir Queen,” accused Love of making false statements about her on Twitter and MySpace. The gist of the posts was that Simorangkir was a drug-pushing prostitute with a criminal history who had lost custody of her own child.
Love settled that case in 2011 for $430,000.
Soon after, Love tweeted that her lawyer, Rhonda Holmes, was “bought off.” Holmes then sued Love for defamation; that case is set for trial in January.
Now, in a fresh lawsuit Simorangkir claims that Love has posted more lies about her, this time on Pinterest, and on the Howard Stern show on May 30.
“Love even went as far as to falsely claim that Simorangkir had engaged in prostitution,” according to the lawsuit.
Simorangkir claims that the comments even shocked shock-jock Stern who told Love, “You can’t just blurt things out.”
According to the lawsuit, Love first started buying Simorangkir’s boudoir-inspired lacy designs through the website Etsy, but then began flying the designer out to her Malibu home and became “infatuated” with her, eventually getting angry that she had to pay for the clothing. Simorangkir at one time claimed the widow of grunge rocker Kurt Cobain and lead singer of Hole didn’t pay up on a bill for thousands of dollars worth of clothing.
Think before you tweet
The amount of truth-bending and finger-pointing has only gotten worse with the speed and convenience of social media, according to lawyers.
“It’s definitely worse,” says Aaron Kelly, an Internet defamation attorney with the law firm Kelly Warner. “It’s quicker to spread and harder to rein in. With 140 characters, you can make a brash statement that can spread like a virus very quickly and be seen by more people.”
The fact that Love has thousands of followers on social media could increase the damages in the lawsuit.
“Some celebrities think ‘Oh, I’ve got all these followers. I can ruin your day if I tweet one thing,’ and they do things without thinking,” Kelly said.
Simorangkir may argue that Love interfered with her business relations if she can show that potential customers decided not to buy her clothes because they saw what Love posted about her.
And given that Love has been sued twice before and settled one of the cases may open the door for Simorangkir to ask for punitive damages by arguing that the singer is acting out of malice and won’t stop unless she is punished.
On the other hand, some courts have been more lenient when it comes to social media.
“There have been cases where judges have given more leeway to speakers on the Internet when comments are made in the heat of the moment or during an intense Internet discussion,” says Karl Kronenberger, of the law firm Kronenberger Rosenfeld.
A defamation case usually hinges on whether a statement that the accused made is true or false, because a person cannot be liable for defamation if the statement is true.
Love has argued that her statements are opinions, not factual statements.
Some judges have allowed a wider definition of “opinion” for online speech.
“There’s a greater level of hyperbole with Internet speech than with offline speech,” Kronenberger said.
Kronenberger and Kelly both say they receive at least three calls per day from people claiming they have been defamed online by friends, family members, or business competitors.
Most friends and family members can work things out and it is simply not worth spending tens of thousands of dollars to go to court for very little in damages.
Many of the cases that do go to court are between business competitors, who put up fake consumer protection sites, posing as consumers.
“There’s a trend toward general nastiness, and people using anonymity to hurt competitors or others they don’t like. It’s sad actually,” Kronenberger said.