The Internet has made it possible for anyone to become a publisher. But when it's used as a tool to ruin a person's reputation, there can be serious legal consequences.
Noelle Halcrow, a former perfume company account executive, learned this lesson when she was ordered to pay a $200,000 award, including $25,000 in aggravated damages, to her ex-boyfriend.
Vancouver mining consultant Brandon Rook also received US$29,870 in special damages to offset what he spent on reputation consultants to get postings removed from the Internet.
After he ended the relationship in July 2016, Halcrow began posting a series of defamatory messages about him on Instagram and different websites.
Justice Elliott Myers found the evidence was "clear and compelling", despite her denial.
"First, there is the expert evidence of Ryan Purita," Myers stated in his ruling. "He analyzed Ms. Halcrow’s emails to Mr. Rook and determined that they were sent from a specific IP address.
"This IP address was used to set up the accounts on Instagram that the posts were done on," the judge continued in his oral reasons for judgment. "While Ms. Halcrow says that others could have used her WiFi when in her house, she gave no evidence to that effect and the explanation in view of the other evidence is not credible. Second, Ms. Halcrow texted Mr. Rook numerous times about taking down the posts and threatening to put them up again or to create further posts."
In addition, the judge noted that the "phraseology used in the posts bears remarkable similarities to the many texts Ms. Halcrow sent".
Moreover, the judge added, there was no evidence that anyone else was motivated to do this, let alone have knowledge of Rook's personal details.
Myers issued his decision on September 25, but the B.C. Supreme Court only recently posted the reasons for judgment on its website.