Social Media And Its Culpability to Cyber Libel


The research will cover one of the timeliest issue in the society which is the cyber libel and the culpability of social media to it. This study will be utilized using social control theory which is introduced by Travis Hirschi to investigate on the objectives of the researchers about the profile of the chosen respondents focusing to their age and gender, what common social sites the culprit uses in cyber libel and the culpability of the social media itself in cyber libel.

The researcher may connect the social ethics of having the improper knowledge of the internet usage and be able to connect why social media and internet becomes the mainstream of cyber libel.


1.0 Introduction

The most widely used instrument nowadays in dissemination of information is the social media which is used in different gender in all ages. The introduction of modern technology affects the fastest growing of publication of new ideas of living.

But it doesn’t end here, sometimes it also becomes the tool that affect social being. It becomes a crime that we call “Cyber Libel” which is defined as a publication without justification that intends to injure the reputation of another person by exposing them hatred, contempt or ridicule (Parke, B. in Parmiter v. Coupland, 1840). In the U.S. and worldwide, cyber libel is a new and ambiguous concept. It became a sticky issue in regards of cyberspace which is considered as a breeding ground for libel without boundaries.

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Research shows that teenagers are the most affected in this issue because they are the one who usually use social media, not just a tool in their educational purposes but also for their entertainment basis.

Cybercrime or computer-oriented crime is a crime that involves a computer and a network. It is a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, with the use of a modern telecommunication networks such as internet that may affect the victim directly or indirectly. The increasing number of Cybercrime cases continuously growing as fake news because of some factors: First, having the improper knowledge of internet usage in the daily living. They usually tend to use internet as for their personal satisfaction that sometimes is from the destruction of other person’s life and interest. Second, malicious intentions never end like people will always do what they want to do in order to satisfy themselves without considering other people around them. Lastly, internet is now everywhere and sometimes considered unstoppable for the individuals doesn’t take responsibility in their every single click that may result in a minimal damage or a serious crime.

In the Philippines, Cyber libel is still a criminal offense. It is the defamation in its very essence, but covers published work on print and other traditional media which is new media or the “Internet”. The Online/Internet Libel which only punishes the original author of the post or the “Blogger” in which the likers and commentators are not liable at the crime unless pre assumed that the comment is libelous. In some countries like United States, there is NO criminal defamation, libel or insult laws on the federal level. It is deemed as a civil offense, where a person suing for libel may only collect monetary damages from the person who published or posted libelous material.

On September 12, 2012, the Philippines approved the Republic Act of 2012 or the Cyber-Crime Prevention Act of 2012 which aims to address legal issues concerning online interactions and internet in the Philippines. Among the cyber-crime offenses included are cyber-squatting, cyber-sex, child pornography, identity theft, and illegal access to data and libel. Penalizing the illegal acts done by the internet criticized for its provision on criminalizing libel, that perceive to be a curtailment in freedom of expression. On February 18, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled that section 5 of the law decision is constitutional. Section 5 states that “1. Aiding or Abetting in the commission of cybercrime- Any person who willfully abets or aids in the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in this act shall be liable. 2. Attempt in the commission of any of Cyber-crime – Any person who willfully attempts to any of the offenses enumerated in R.A. 10175 shall be held liable.”

According to PNP-ACG Assistant Chief Psupt. Jay Guillermo, the online threats and libel complains mostly make use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Therefore, Facebook and Twitter which is known to be as an easy instrument in expressing yourself sometimes is being used as an instrument in destroying or doing a crime. In 2016, online libel emerged as the top complaint for Filipino internet users, with 494 complaints recorded compared to 311 recorded in 2015 – PNP ACG data. The evidence gathering for Online Libel becomes difficult without the help of telecommunications companies and internet service providers. Thus, securing digital evidence is also a challenge for police investigators. It takes months to solve the case and some of the victims have chosen to withdraw especially if money is not involved.

Due to the increasing cases involving Cyber Libel that social media becomes the most accountable subject of predator of most victims. This study is to give analytical analysis of main causes of Cyber libel that usually occur at every ages. Specially for teenagers who has the larger volume of internet usage. The conduct of the study secures the protection of every person interacting in the virtual world which is the social media and gives knowledge for constitutional law that they may face upon committing Cyber Libel.

2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Theoretical Framework

2.1.1 Social Control Theory

The Social control theory was introduced by Travis Hirschi gained prominence during the 1960s as sociologists sought differing conceptions of crime. This theory derives from a Hobbesian view of human nature as represented in Leviathan, i.e. that all choices are constrained by implicit social contracts, agreements and order, assigning cots and consequences to certain choices and defining as evil, immoral and/or illegal. It assumes that an individual can see the advantages of crime and is capable of inventing and be able to execute all sorts of criminal acts without prior training.

Social control theory proposes that people’s relationships, commitments, values, norms, and beliefs encourage them not to break the law. Thus, if moral codes are internalized and individuals are tied into and have a stake in their wider community, they will voluntarily limit their propensity to commit deviant acts. The theory seeks to understand the ways in which is possible to reduce likelihood of criminality developing on the individuals. It does not consider motivational issues, it simply states that human being may choose to engage in a wide range of activities, unless the range is limited by the process of socialization and social learning.

2.1.2 Self-control theory of crime

Hirschi in co-operation with Michael R. Gottfredson, developed a general theory or “self-control theory” in 1991. Akers (1991) argued that the major weakness of this theory was that Gottfredson and Hirschi did not define self-control and the tendency toward criminal behavior separately. It does not deliberately control self traits and criminal behavior or criminal acts individually. It suggests the concepts of criminal behavior or criminal acts individually and the concept of low self-control and propensity of criminal behavior at the same time. Hirschi and Gottfredson (1993) rebutted Akers argument by suggesting it was actually an indication of the consistency of general theory. The theory is internally consistent by conceptualizing crime and deriving from a concept of the offender’s traits. The research community remains divided on whether the general theory is sustainable but there is emerging confirmation of some of its predictions. (LaGrange and Silverman: 1999).

2.2 Variable Discussion

2.2.1 Truth, lies and the Internet: a report into young people’s digital fluency

The internet is now almost certainly the greatest source of information for people living in UK. We use internet to read what is happening in the world, to get advice about things that worry us, to argue, to collaborate, to decide who to vote for and who to date. The information we access and consume on the internet is central in forming our attitudes, our beliefs and our views about the world around us. The amount of information available at the click of a mouse when making these decisions can be both liberating and asphyxiating. Although there are more e-books, trustworthy journalism, niche expertise and accurate facts and figures at our fingertips than ever before, there are equally unprecedented amounts mistakes, half-truths, propaganda, misinformation, disinformation and general nonsense (Demos 2011). Meaning, no matter how many trustworthy journals will be given, individuals will always choose the internet for its undeniable power “to create or destroy”.

The social media is currently the best supply of data for individuals nowadays. We have a tendency to use it to scan abreast of what’s happening within the world, to urge recommendation regarding things that worry us, to argue and collaborate, to make a decision who to vote for and who up to now. The knowledge we know has a tendency to access and consume on the web in which is central in forming our attitude and beliefs. Attitude and beliefs that may reflect on our daily lives based on how we communicate or interact on the people who surrounds us. Also, this may affect our socialization with other people, individuals tend to continuously using social media as their medium of communication but somehow it doesn’t give you a hundred percent assurance of you considered to be “sociable” enough to socialized in the society.

2.2.2 Understanding social media

Understanding social media provides a critical and timely conceptual toolbox for navigating the evolution of practices of social media. Hjoarth Larissa and Sam Hinton created a book taking the interdisciplinary and intercultural approach, this book provides a clear and concise explanation of the key concepts but also goes beyond specific brands, sites and practices to show readers how to place social media more critically within the changing media and cultural landscape. As an aid on understanding key concepts in each chapter are illustrated by case studies to give real world examples of theory in action. Cutting across the many dimensions of social media, from the political, economic and visual. This book explores the industries, ideologies and cultural practices that are increasingly becoming part of global popular culture (Sage 2013).

Social Media has its own purpose but humans tend to misunderstand it. This book will guide or put you in the right track on how to use social media as a help and not a piece of toy that you can use whenever you want it.

2.2.3 Cyber Law on Libel

The internet means advancement in productivity, speed and knowledge. It is the fastest, most cost efficient way to reach the widest possible audience. It makes it possible for businesses to deliver targeted aids to users, based on their searches.

With just a single click, the information will be posted and will be seen by a large number of audiences. It is actually a universal access in which it is a source of free information and a free tool in disseminating the information (Phil. LJ89, 757, 2015). Internet now serves as an easy vehicle in dissemination of different variables of information to the society.

2.2.4 What is libel proof?

On the Internet, individuals can go out and make attempts to rib each other, to mock certain celebrities or even infamous individuals. This opens the realm of libel and slander laws to expand towards online activities. Yet, depending on the person’s history, defamation may be borderline impossible.

If defamation is harm to one’s reputation, then theoretically it should be impossible to harm an irredeemable reputation. This idea is a concept known as libel proof — i.e., a person who cannot be defamed any longer.  However, can a completely libel-proof person exist? How could someone argue if the individual is libel proof? How might this affect online communications?

What is libel proof?

Libel proof means a person cannot be defamed any further. To satisfy libel, it would have to be an unprivileged false written statement that was published towards third parties (compared to slander, which is an unprivileged false oral statement that was published towards third parties). Even then, defamatory statements are judged differently to protect free speech interests.

For public individuals, a “malice” requirement is added on, requiring a reckless disregard for the truth (compared to other ideas of malice, which would require bad faith). Yet, private individuals still don’t have that standard, and instead the publisher or originator of the defamatory statement would only need to be found negligent in his or her conduct.  Reverting to the idea of a libel-proof plaintiff, if his/her reputation is already known as terrible, then it leads to a “free pass” to lambast the individual, even if presumably, the information released is completely false in its nature.

Yet, to be libel proof, is to have no good reputation at all, presumably meaning that to truly be libel proof and the bad reputation would have to be well known to the public to ensure no further damage could be sustained. Thus, the defamation-proof individual is likely to be limited to those famous individuals as their reputation which would be widely known and reasonably damaged to cause no harm.

The Test Case:

Recently, the idea of a “libel-proof” individual came up with Donald Trump in regards to a news story and claims published by the New York Times.  Trump, at the time mused about suing the organization for defamation.  This prompted a letter from the organization’s attorney, introducing the idea that Trump is libel proof, so no harm could be done to him by the reports.  This idea of a “libel-proof” nature to the candidate then took off.

However, the idea of a libel-proof individual has never been fully acknowledged or tested in the courts. It has been bounced around beforehand as a legal theory with various interpretations ranging from “general libel proof” where the entire reputation is trashed to a more reasonable subject specific version. For example, if a person is well-known for a certain moral flaw, then he/she may be libel proof on that moral flaw but not some other aspect of his/her character. Also, there is the off-chance that the idea of a libel-proof individual could be severely limited to celebrities and public officials who would be well-known to yield a truly terrible reputation (Atrizadeh 2017).

2.2.5 Major Internet Libel Cases

In this very first major published case on Internet libel, the Plaintiff Cubby Inc. claimed damages due to one of CompuServe’s hundreds of independent self-operated forums. The journalistic forum called, ‘Rumorville’ had an eletronic gossip magazine called ‘Skuttlebut’ on which was posted a defamatory comment about Cubby Inc. Because CompuServe does not review the contents of publications prior to postings, the court found that CompuServe held a position analogous to a distributor — for example, an electronic bookstore or library was relieving CompuServe from the liability that a publisher would face. This finding is based on the court case Smith V. California in which the United States Supreme Court held a distributor must have a demonstrable knowledge of the erroneous content of a publication prior to dissemination in order to held a liable releasing of content. Prior landmark cases involving plaintiffs pressing libel charges against a carrier, including N.Y. Times v. Sullivan and Western Union Telegraph v. Lesesne, have found that carriers or distributors of published works do not hold responsibility for libel unless they had reasonable knowledge beforehand of the libelous material they had distributed. Cubby Inc. vs. CompuServe Inc., 776 F.Supp. 135(S.D.N.Y., 1991)

2.2.6 Software Incorporated v. Reliability Research, Inc.

In a suit against the Dow Jones News Retrieval Service, defendants moved for dismissal on grounds that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Arguing that it was not a ‘publisher’ but, an electronic archive, Dow Jones asserted that the statute of limitations should run from the date of initial publication in the underlying newspaper, or, in the alternative, from the date on which the article was first distributed online. (C.D. Cal., 1986)

2.2.7 Artificial Intelligence Corp. vs. Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

In a suit against the Dow Jones News Retrieval Service, defendants moved for dismissal on grounds that plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Arguing that it was not a ‘publisher’ but, in essence, an electronic archive, Dow Jones asserted that the statute of limitations should run from the date of initial publication in the underlying newspaper, or, in the alternative, from the date on which the article was first distributed online. (N.Y. Sup. Ct., 1993)

2.2.8 Software Incorporated v. Reliability Research, Inc.

A Nevada computer bulletin board operator was held subject to jurisdiction in California because allegedly defamatory messages posted on the board could be accessed in the latter state. However, the case also discusses other contacts between defendant and California that contributed to pursuing jurisdiction there. The court stated: ‘Through the use of computers, corporations can now transact business and communicate with individuals in several cases simultaneously…While modern technology has made nationwide commercial transactions simpler and more feasible, even for small businesses, it must broaden correspondingly the permissible scope of jurisdiction exercise by the courts.’ (C.D. Cal., 1986)

2.2.9 Medphone Corp. v. DeNegris

A high-tech equipment manufacturer sued a New Jersey man alleging that he libeled the company by posting disparaging e-mail messages on the ‘Money Line’ electronic bulletin board operated by Prodigy. The defendant, who was a Medphone investor, allegedly criticized the company’s stock, management, and financial position. Prodigy was not joined as a defendant, although it was served with a non-party subpoena. The case was settled before the court issued any substantive options. Civ. Action No. 069400012 (D.N.J, 1992)

2.2.10 Suarez Corp. Industries v. Meeks

The plaintiff sued an Internet newsletter-writer for defamation over an edition of the newsletter that had called a sales pitch offered on the Internet by the plaintiff company a ‘scam,’ and had gone on to label the company’s president as ‘a slick direct-mail baron.’ The case was settled before the court issued any substantive opinion, based upon an agreement that the defendant notify the plaintiff at least 48 hours in advance of publishing anything about the plaintiff. Civil Action No. 267513 (Ct. of Common Pleas, Cuyahoga City, Ohio)

2.3 Research Simulacrum or Paradigm






In this paradigm, it shows the flow of how social media is being used in cyber libel, the internet which is widely used for social communication top the highest cases for cyber libel and television/publications that usually disseminate fake news that lovers the identity of accused. The social ethics of improper usage of social media becomes the mainstream for cyber libel.

2.4 Problem Statement

The study aims to determine the culpability of social media in cyber libel and to identify who are mostly involved in committing cyber libel from the Grade 12 STEM students.

Specifically, this will aim to answer the following questions:

1. What are the profile of the chosen respondents of the study?

1.1 Gender

1.2 Age

2. Why social media is culpable in cyber libel?

3. What are the common social media sites culprit uses in cyber libel?

2.5 Hypotheses

Alternative Hypothesis(Ha): The use of social media is culpable for cyber libel cases.

Null Hypothesis (Ho): The use of social media is not culpable for cyber libel cases.

3.0 Research Method

3.1 Research Design

In this study, the researchers had their analysis regards to what particular method they will going to apply. They used quantitative method that helped them to analyze and finalize the results of their gathered information from their respective respondents. A Quantitative Research method emphasized object measurements and the statistical, mathematical, or numerical analysis of data collected through polls, questionnaires, and survey, or by manipulating pre-existing statistical data using computational techniques. Quantitative research also focuses on gathering numerical data and generalizing it across groups of people or to explain a particular phenomenon. (Babie, 2010).

3.2 Research Locale

The researchers gathered information at Our Lady of Fatima University, Pampanga campus at Barangay Dela Paz Norte City of San Fernando Pampanga. The respondents are 100 Grade 12 STEM Senior High School students.

3.3 Population and Sampling/Key Informant Selection

The respondents are the Senior High Sschool Grade 12 (STEM) students. The researchers used survey questionnaires as a technique in gathering of information. Which can accumulate a total of 100 senior high school students. The researchers set the criteria for conducting a survey that is related to the study in-depth information. [1] Male or Female [2] 18 years old and above; and [3] Willing to participate.

3.4 Research Ethics

Ethical standards are observed in this study. [1] Consent will be ask to the teacher that holds their class during the survey. If they will goint to allow the students to conduct their survey. [2] Right to Privacy states that respondents and their personal data provided are strictly confidential, there is no unrelated question concerning the study that needs to be answered by the respondents. [3] Principle of Justice states that human subjects should be treated fairly in terms of the benefits and risks of research. The profit in taking part during this study is the possession of freedom to precise and delight of the activity. The researchers assure that there is no capable risk that may implicate the respondents.

3.5 Research Instruments

The researchers created questioners to be distributed to the respondents as their instruments to collect data. The questionnaires consists of questions and basic information from the respondents, in able for them to gather information and knowledge that is needed in this study.

3.6 Data Collection

The researchers went to the head office of their College to ask for their permission to conduct the survey to the specific grade level and strand. On the process of data gathering, ethical clearance was secured. After gathering the data, the results indicated was interpreted and analyzed by the statistician and a critic friend and served as a source of information for the review of the study, analysis and evaluation.

3.7 Data Analysis

The information collected from the respondents throughout the survey will be taken by a statistician for applied math data. The information will be used in the applied math tools method, test, analyze and judge numerical rates.

4.0 Result

4.1 Demographic Profile

4.2 Why social media is culpable

Social media is the easiest medium nowadays in regards in communication. This is the very reason why social media is the best way to blame for the problem of cyber libel. It became the mainstream of cyber libel for it is an easy access that anyone no matter what is his/her reason can have it. By the use of different social media cites every user can post, like, share, and comment whatever and whenever they want.

4.3 Cites

In this chapter, the researchers presented the findings based on the data collected, the researchers distributed 100 questionnaires to the respondents from Grades 12 Senior High school STEM. The questionnaire is based on the social media and its culpability to cyber libel.

In this discussion the aim of our study is to figure out the most widely used social media sites that are being currently used by the grade 12 stem students, we use social control theory to find out on how people think or perceive about the social media sites and the possible reasons why people tend to commit crime in social media. The results of the conducted survey by the selected one hundred (100) students of Our Lady of Fatima University are being judged by a statistician and the figures shows the flow of the discussion. The 6 figures show that the teenagers admitted that social media is part of their life because in this era it is the best way for them to communicate and interact with other people to share their problem and to express what is on their mind. But social media can destroy the reputation of someone by posting some malicious or libelous word towards the person. The social media is a powerful tool to commit crime that you lower the esteem or honor, or respect of the person. Other than social media the broadcast media or the television can be used as a tool for non-written libel where the host or the speaker can utter defamatory words. Majority of the respondents are boys, sixty percent (60%) over one hundred percent (100%). The respondents spend 1-2 hours a day when they are using social media. It is all shown on those figures that was critically analyzed by the statistician.

5.0 Conclusion

This study shows that Social Media is culpable to Cyber Libel. The increasing numbers of users of social media application available online create a rapid increase of crimes committed every second. The victims are more likely teenagers which usually uses site that are socially known like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. It also affects the political issue of every nation, due to numbers of fake news publicized. It also shows from the survey conducted that the awareness of teenager has a vital affect in controlling the Cyber Libel. They are powered by social media in terms of communication and solving their problem.

In addition, this study is a solution for the control and prevention of Cyber Libel as Social Media is Internationally available. Whereas, the proper way of using social media must be the main parameter for the resolution and the implementation of laws for the control of Cyber Libel.

Moreover, this study will open the eye of every user that typically uses the social media as their medium of communication. It will give a sense of responsibility and awareness in every post and act they do online.

This study promotes social awareness and control for Cyber Libel as the social media is used as the instrument.

6.0 Recommendations

The study is limited to the culpability of social media into Cyber Libel. Yet, there are still other factors that can be included in the research for the enhancement of the study.

Moreover, the study of the cyber libel cases has common issues involve in cyber libel and laws that controls cyber libel for the protection of every victim can be an additional input to resolve cyber libel.

Therefore, the researchers recommend the following possible improvement of the study:

· The respondents must not be limited to teenagers

· Find records of the cyber libel cases in the Philippines and evaluate the ages and gender affected and severity of the case.

· Find the motives and intention of culprit why they are committing cyber libel.

· Statistical review of annually recorded cyber libel cases to evaluate the number.


Cite this page

Social Media And Its Culpability to Cyber Libel. (2022, May 12). Retrieved from

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