Defamed on TikTok
Defamation, harassment and breaches of privacy on TikTok
If you are an influencer, TikTok creator, celebrity or public figure and have suffered serious damage to your reputation as a result of being defamed on TikTok, we can help you seek vindication through the law of defamation.
Over the years we have helped thousands of public figures, celebrities, HNWIs, businesses and professionals protect their hard-earned reputations. Our highly-regarded media law department is unique because all our solicitors work exclusively in this field. This means that our clients receive the best possible advice and representation.
Should I be concerned about defamation on TikTok?
Whether you use TikTok yourself or not, the significance of the platform cannot be ignored. The app has been downloaded over 3 billion times and has in excess of 1.5 billion active monthly users. It has been described as the 'crack cocaine of algorithms', providing its users with increasingly relevant videos (varying in length between three seconds and 10 minutes) based on their viewing history. Its level of 'post engagement' is said to be the highest of any social media platform and it has a powerful search engine. Videos (or TikToks) regularly exceed a million viewers.
Can I bring a defamation claim for something that has been said about me on TikTok?
The law of defamation applies equally to TikTok as it does to more traditional forms of publication/broadcast.
When establishing a defamation claim it is generally immaterial whether a defendant has launched a deliberate attack on your reputation, broadcast something in anger or innocently repeated a defamatory statement made by a third party. If a TikTok video is viewed and serious reputational damage has been suffered then you can normally assert a claim for libel.
Defamation is not simply a numbers game, but generally the more a TikTok is viewed the greater the likelihood of reputational damage. Damage may increase further, and additional claims arise, if the defamatory content is rebroadcast elsewhere. Conversely, if the level of viewers is low then a claim for libel may fail unless it can be established on evidence that the posting has caused or is likely to cause serious reputational harm (this is a requirement of any defamation claim under sections 1(1) of the Defamation Act 2013).
What defences apply to TikTok defamation claims?
The normal libel defences apply to TikTok defamation claims. For example, the defence of truth, honest opinion, publication on a matter of public interest (sections 2, 3 and 4 of the Defamation Act 2013). These defences are complicated and often misunderstood. Prospective claimants or defendants should generally seek specialist legal advice.
Does Brett Wilson LLP defend TikTok defamation claims?
Yes, we act for claimants and defendants. If you are a TikTok creator and you have been accused of defamation, we can advise and represent you.
What remedies can the Court award for TikTok defamation claims?
The remedies we can seek on your behalf include: removal, an apology/clarification, damages/compensation, and an undertaking (promise) not to repeat. In matters that go to court we can seek damages and an injunction. On occasions, a statement can be made in open court putting the record straight.
What if I don't know the real identity of a TikTok creator?
In some instances, TikTok creators will be anonymous or pseudonymous (i.e. they will use an alias). We can advise you on your options, including asking TikTok to remove the offending content or the scope for seeking a type of court order known as a Norwich Pharmacal Order requiring the disclosure of information which might identify the creator.
What if the defendant is based outside the UK?
If a defendant is based outside the UK it may be necessary or preferable (for legal and/or practical reasons) to engage lawyers in the jurisdiction where the defendant is based. This will be case-specific. If instructed, we will talk you through the relevant issues with you.
What if private information is being shared on TikTok without my consent?
We can assist you with asserting claims for the misuse of private information, breach of confidence and breach of data protection rights under the UK General Data Protection Regulation ('UK GDPR') and Data Protection Act 2018.
What if videos of my children are being shared on TikTok without my consent?
We can normally assert a claim on behalf of your children. Children are entitled to a greater level of privacy than adults.
What can I do if I am being harassed on TikTok?
If we believe the legal threshold for harassment is met, we can assert a claim for harassment on your behalf. The Court has the power to award damages (compensation) for distress/injury to feelings and impose an injunction. In some circumstances, harassment may also give rise to criminal liability.
Can I sue TikTok itself?
In practice such claims are rare, but they are theoretically possible. We acted for the claimant/appellant in Tamiz v Google Inc  EWCA Civ 68, which was the first time the Court of Appeal considered the liability of online platforms for libel. The Court held that Google Inc could be liable as publisher at common law in relation to its Blogger platform after it had been placed on notice of offending content and a reasonable amount of time had passed. Our summary of the judgment can be found here. There is now a statutory defence in libel for intermediaries where the identity of the original publisher/broadcaster is known (section 10 of the Defamation Act 2013). The position regarding TikTok's potential liability for misuse of private information, breach of data protection legislation or harassment has yet to be determined by the English courts.
Why should I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
In short, to ensure that you have the best team fighting for you and to maximise your prospects of success. Defamation law is notoriously complex and it is generally ill-advised to instruct non-specialist lawyers. Within the field of defamation, we are particularly well-known for our pioneering work in respect of online publication. Our work and client care is of the highest standard. All cases are run by a specialist defamation solicitor. Every matter has partner involvement. If there is a good settlement to be negotiated, we are confident we are well placed to achieve it. If there is a case to be litigated, we are confident we can help you seek the best result.
We have long-standing working relationships with the best media law KCs and junior barristers, whom we can draft into the team to represent you in court if the need arises.
As well as being listed in the prestigious Legal 500, Chambers and Partners and The Times Best Law Firms directories as a leading firm in the fields of defamation, privacy and reputation management law, partners Iain Wilson, Max Campbell and Tom Double are all individually recognised as leading individuals. Iain Wilson and Max Campbell are additionally recommended by the Spear's 500 HNWI directory for their reputation management work. Iain Wilson is also recommended in the Tatler Address Book. Most importantly, the firm receives excellent feedback from its clients and contemporaries.
Litigation can be stressful, time consuming and costly. Therefore at the outset of your case we will conduct a cost benefit analysis with you. We will talk you through this process. We offer honest and pragmatic advice to our clients. We will always consider alternative options, including asserting other causes of action (such as harassment and the misuse of private information), approaching intermediaries or PR work.
How do I instruct Brett Wilson LLP?
The first step is to attend a preliminary consultation. At the consultation, our specialist defamation solicitors will advise you on the merits of any claim, talk through the relevant practical and legal issues, and set out your options. We will review relevant documentation ahead of the consultation. The consultation will help you understand your position and allow you to make an informed decision about what action to take.
Consultations take place in our London offices or by Zoom/Teams/telephone. We can also travel to you.
To request a consultation please send us an email, complete our online enquiry form or call us on 020 7183 8950. If emailing or using the online form, please provide a short outline of your situation.
Details of the cost of a consultation will be provided following your enquiry.
We regret that we are unable to review your case, consider papers or provide advice prior to a consultation or without being formally instructed.
We do not offer alternative funding arrangements.
Contact us to request a consultation
Call 020 7183 8950
or send us a message.
Notable reported cases
- Smith v Backhouse  EWCA Civ 874
- Wai v Kywe (2023)
- Evans v McMahon (2023)
- Embery v Grady (2023) (SIOC)
- Global Processing Services (UK) Ltd v Yanpolsky & Anor  EWHC 425 (KB)
- Smith v Backhouse  EWHC 3011 (KB)
- Smith v Backhouse (2022) (SIOC)
- Dew v Mills-Nanyn  EWHC 1925 (QB)
- Haviland v The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd & Anor  EWHC 1688 (QB)
- GUH v KYT  EWHC 1854 (QB)
- Hopkinson v British Mensa Limited (2021) (SIOC)
- Blackledge v Persons Unknown  EWHC 1994
- Haviland v The Andrew Lownie Literary Agency Ltd & Anor  EWHC 143 (QB)
- Wright v Ver  EWCA Civ 672
- JQL v NTP  EWHC 1349 (QB)
- Riley & Anor v Heybroek  EWHC 1259 (QB)
- Al Sadik v Sadik  EWHC 2717 (QB)
- Morgan v Times Newspapers Ltd and Telegraph Media Group Ltd (2019) (SIOC)
- Morgan v Times Newspapers Ltd  EWHC 1525 (QB)
- Life 2009 Ltd v Lambeth London Borough Council (2019) (SIOC)
- Suttle v Walker  EWHC 396 (QB)
- Zarb-Cousin v Association of British Bookmakers & Anor  EWHC 2240 (QB)
- SWS v Department for Work and Pensions  EWHC 2282 (QB)
- Galloway v Ali-Khan  EWHC 780 (QB)
- Singh v Weayou  EWHC 2102 (QB)
- Guise v Shah  EWHC 1689 (QB)
- Brett Wilson LLP v Persons Unknown  EWHC 2628 (QB)
- QRS v Beach & Anor  EWHC 1489 (QB)
- Myers v Ong (2014) (SIOC)
- Myers v Ryce (2014) (SIOC)
- QRS v Beach & Anor  EWHC 3057 (QB)
- Tamiz v Google Inc  EWCA Civ 68
- The Law Society & Ors v Kordowski  EWHC 3185 (QB)
- Kordowski v Hudson  EWHC 2667 (QB)