Re-Defining Defamation: Psychological Sense of Community in the Age of the Internet

Amy Kristin Sanders, Natalie Christine Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the era of traditional media, courts typically relied upon geographic constraints, including where a plaintiff lived or worked, to determine the appropriate community in defamation cases. The rise of the Internet has dramatically changed society - easily and immediately linking users across geography while allowing the rapid spread of information through a variety of channels that pose a challenge to the traditional media model centered around editorial judgment and professional ethics. Thanks in part to its global reach, the Internet has allowed users to engage in both business and social relationships around the world. Because of this, a person's need for a good reputation can no longer be confined solely to location. As a result, this article argues that courts must begin to evaluate other factors when determining relevant community in online defamation cases, positing that courts should utilize factors associated with psychological sense of community theory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-384
Number of pages30
JournalCommunication Law and Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Law


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