You can never be too careful with what you post on social media.
One North Carolina woman learned that lesson the hard way — and now she's paying up.
According to the Citizen-Times, Asheville resident Jacquelyn Hammond was using Facebook in November 2015 when she made a post she'll never forget. She wrote:
“I didn't get drunk and kill my kid.”
A lawyer for Hammond claimed that she never meant to post the sentence on the site and “mistakenly placed in one Facebook thread while (Hammond) was simultaneously participating in another online forum discussion.”
She quickly removed the post, but somebody else had already seen it.
Her co-worker, Davyne Dial, was horrified when she saw the words — because she was convinced the sentence was about her.
Dial's young son was killed during a gun accident with another child in 1976, according to Refinery29. The mother was cleared of all involvement of the case and was never intoxicated during the incident.
But she was convinced that Hammond, whom she had previously quarreled with over work issues at the radio station where they worked, was attacking her reputation online. She told the Citizen-Times:
"This woman had been carrying on a smear campaign against me for nearly a year on social media. And social media makes it very easy to do this.
There are no filters to say whatever you think behind the safety of your screen. She had made other untrue statements through the years, but when this happened, it was very painful."
Dial was ready to go to court over the post. She soon filed a libel lawsuit against Hammond, according to KSDK.
The two settled the lawsuit last month, but Hammond didn't get off easy.
She was ordered to pay $250,000 for defamation and $250,000 in punitive damages.
Dial said it should be a cautionary for those who post regularly online. She said:
“It tells you you need to be careful on social media and not put stuff out to the world that is untrue — that you might do it to someone who will hold you accountable for what you’re doing.”
Michael D. Green, a law professor at Wake Forest University, told the Citizen-Times that a settlement that large was “extraordinarily rare” for a libel case.