Can one be punished / successfully sued for sharing libelous material written by someone else? For example, I read on a news website that John Doe committed a horrible crime. If I share this article, for example, by linking to it on my social media account, can I be held responsible if it is later proven that the article was libelous? If so, am I personally responsible to determine the truthiness of the article?
Does it matter in which way do I share it? I could imagine several scenarios from least to most harsh:
- Hey, I've seen this article about John Doe doing this evil act, is it really so?
- Did John Doe really commit this evil act? Take a look at what some experts say.
- Wow, it's so shocking to find what horrible things John Doe did!
- John Doe is evil, he did these horrible things! And I have evidence to prove it! Look here!
If any of the above is punishable, for example in the case it later becomes well known that the linked story is fake, do I have the responsibility to continue checking the news about this topic and remove my post after I've learned the truth about the fake article? Can I claim I didn't follow the story and didn't know it was fake? Who has the burden of proof?
If the answer to these examples is "no", are there situations where it can be libel? For example, standing on a street corner and handing out printed copies of the article, or some other scenarios?