Bombay High court

Influencer Guide: Can you be sued for your opinion?

Reviewing brands and their products is a common piece of content on social media. There is an entire genre of content which only focuses on reviewing products. This helps influencers to share their opinion with their audience that trust them and share about the products they use.

Could this, however, call for defamation lawsuits on you as an influencer? Let us find out.

It all started when social media influencer Abhijeet Bhansali suggested his audience against buying Parachute hair oil in a video on Youtube. Marico Ltd had to prove the following for the case to go ahead –

1) That Bhansali had made false statements in his video about Parachute Coconut Oil;

2)That the statements were made by him either maliciously or recklessly; and

3) That the video caused ‘special damages’ to Marico.

A single bench judge was set up to look over the matter and it was observed that while social media influencers have a lot of responsibility to influence people they also have the fundamental right to share their opinions.

Here is what Chief Justice Nandrajog said –

“The existing law on defamation says no one can make a false statement of a fact. An opinion cannot be held as a fact irrespective of how bad it (opinion) is. Freedom of speech is always put on a higher pedestal than reputation even though both are fundamental rights. We will have to go into this issue while hearing this appeal,”

However, the final judgement is still to be made on 5th February 2020, until which Marico Ltd cannot take any action against

The answer, for now, isn’t clear but as per the statement of the judge, everyone is allowed to voice their own opinion, even if it is something negative regarding another big brand.

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