I have already posted one thread here about my interactions with people on Facebook. Briefly, I made a factual statement about a mathematical concept that some people thought was incorrect and decided that they would contact my employer to report me for being ignorant of mathematics. My employer responded with that boilerplate about employee confidentiality: basically that they would not be responding to requests about my status as an employee.

Most of these people belong to a single Facebook group that is dedicated to promoting a point of view about mathematics. The postings of this group are public and I read one of the threads that they had made about me. One poster intimated that I had a LinkedIn profile and that they could continue to pursue me through that, since they seem to have obtained no satisfaction from contacting my employer.

I was wondering if people continue to pursue me on other forms of social media and say things that are intended to cause you harm if there is any form of legal recourse. I fully understand that there may not be, but I don't think it hurts to ask. I don't see a real possibility of actual harm coming to me, but I would like whatever is happening to stop, since I believe that what is happening is in some sense wrong.

As I understand it, the jurisdiction for torts committed over the internet is the jurisdiction in which the wronged party resides. For me, that is Washington state.

1 Answer 1


With the information you provide, there is not much you can do for the time being. But I'll explain in which circumstances you would have a viable claim against them.

Calling you "ignorant of mathematics" is most likely to be interpreted in court as a statement of opinion. As such, it constitutes free speech protected by the First Amendment.

To constitute defamation, they would have to make statements of fact which can objectively verifiable as false. For instance, they would have to allege something in the sense of "He purports to prove his theorem XYZ by claiming that 1=2" when in reality your theorem and proof are legitimate.

If their falsehood(s) is (are) particularly detrimental to your profession (say, maths research), that constitutes defamation per se. In that case, you would be awarded a sum of money even if you haven't actually been harmed. But if it is not particularly detrimental to the profession you exercise, you would need to prove that their falsehood(s) caused you harm, be it in the form of termination, demotion, or being passed on for a promotion/job.

Now, suppose they heckle your employer to the point that he decides to terminate you so that they stop harassing him. In that case, you would have a valid claim of tortious interference with business relation, because the annoyance that their pattern caused on your employer is an unjustified act: they already complained to your employer once, whence there was no reason for them to persist.

Other scenarios leading to a claim of tortious interference are if (1) they successfully entice your employer (by offering some incentive to him) on the condition that he severs relations with you, or (2) they intercept and alter your deliverable(s), leading your employer to terminate/demote you under his mistaken belief that your work is flawed. But the occurrence of an actual harm is sine qua non for a cause of tortious interference to arise.

If you know who they are and have proof that their conduct meets the legal definition harassment, you might want to consider requesting in court a restraining order against these individuals. The restraining order can prohibit them to contact your employer. However, that will be impossible to achieve if their acts don't go beyond what you've described here.


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