Legal Updates

The limits of freedom of expression are wider in reference to criticism directed at a public figure, than at a private person

May 15, 2024

The mayor of Ramla filed a lawsuit against several of the city's residents for posts that were published on Facebook and which allegedly constitute defamation.

The Court rejected the lawsuit and determined that the residents have the defense of voicing the truth. A post on social networks can constitute a publication for the purpose of defamation. As far as defamation is concerned, there must be a balance between the right to a good name and the freedom of expression, but the freedom of expression is not the freedom to contempt and slander. The test for defamation is an objective test that examines how the reasonable listener would understand the publication according to the meaning accepted by the public in its entirety. Even if only a small part of the public may perceive the publication as offensive, it must be classified as such, and when it comes to a public figure, the limits of freedom of expression must be broader. Here, there is a clear public interest in the publication, the mayor did not show that the publications made are not true and his conduct shows that he is making cynical use of the city's resources in order to act against those who publish criticism against him. In the aforementioned circumstances, the residents have the defense of speaking truth and therefore the publication does not constitute defamation.