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Social media means that celebrities have the ability to speak their minds to millions of followers. Free of censors and PR varnish, some stars have gotten into trouble for being a little too forthright, making unflattering comments about their acquaintances. Some celebrities, more than once.
Now add the ability to attach pictures.
In what might be a first, a celebrity is being taken to court for alleged defamation on Instagram, the popular photo-sharing social media forum. The lawsuit comes from a woman named Karen Monroe who says hip-hop superstar The Game hurt her reputation.
According to the complaint filed Wednesday in L.A. Superior Court, the rapper born as Jayceon Terrell Taylor “stated that Plaintiff had been fired by him for lying, stealing, screaming at his children, mistreating other children, doing very inappropriate and unbecoming things of a babysitter…” and more.
The hip-hop star maintains an Instagram account under the handle @handsomemurderer as well as an eponymous Twitter account and last month was reported in the press as having used them to rant about his children’s former nanny then under the employ of fellow rapper Nas. Now comes the lawsuit, after The Game reportedly wrote, among other things, “She was BUSTED having sex with her then boyfriend and leaving a used condom & the wrapper in my daughter’s room!!!”
The plaintiff says there can be no doubt as to whether the comments were “of and concerning” her, one of the primary elements in a defamation claim.
“To ensure that Plaintiff was appropriately identified as the target of Defendants defamatory rant, Defendant identified Plaintiff by her name, attached a picture of her on his Instagram account with the caption ‘Beware if this person is watching your children, she is a very dangerous baby sitter’, and listed Plaintiff’s Twitter and Instagram accounts.”
The Game has more than a million followers on Instagram.
In past lawsuits against celebrities over comments made in social media, there has been some question as to whether plaintiffs are entitled to huge damages for statements that are broadcast to such a large following and then retweeted. (In this lawsuit, it’s said to be “foreseeable” that defamatory statements would be republished by others.) There’s also the potential defense that an average social media user realizes the casual nature of the medium and would interpret statements made as opinions rather than intended conveyed facts.
What happens if a celebrity puts a face on child abuse?
The rapper’s rant was picked up by a number of publications, and the lawsuit says that “numerous individuals have decided to send Plaintiff death threats, ridicule her, accuse her of crimes, express their hatred for her, harass her, and hold her out for scorn and contempt.”
Monroe also says she lost her job, her ability to work in her industry and has experienced depression. She’s seeking an unspecified amount of general and special damages against The Game, who is also the star of a VH1 reality show called Marrying the Game. She is represented by attorney Manu Elloie.
The defendant couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
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