I understand that if somebody posts false information about an individual and if it can be proved that individual had intent to cause malice against the other individual, then that can be brought to court. Out of curiosity, does this also apply to incomplete information.

The thing about these laws is that you can bring someone to court if the information presented was false, but my real question is what if the information is incomplete?

This is the best example I could make:

For example, suppose a movie company releases a list of movies that came out in its latest fiscal year in order to tempt investors to buy its stock. However, a person releases posts stating that some of the movies came out couple of years before and makes this information public to try and scare investors from purchasing this companies' stock (basically if the company released movies in 2006 and the guy is pointing out that some movies on the list were released in 2003). HOWEVER, the company clearly has, in bold letters, on the list a statement which says that many of the movies were released years ago, but are on the new list because it also includes DVD releases.

Would this hold any validation in court? Would you have to prove that the person knew about the statement but still lied about the information to cause harm against the movie company?

Sorry if this isn't the type of question accepted on here; I am currently studying US Government and this question came to my mind.

2 Answers 2


For defamation, the statement must be untrue and it must damage the person's reputation; it does not have to be malicious, even an innocently made untrue statement can be defamation.

It is important to note that making true statements about Jim Smith, 43 year old civil servant in Kentucky can be defamation against Jim Smith, 45 year old civil servant in Tennessee if it was made in such a way that a reasonable person could assume you were referring to the latter person. If you are going to make a true statement about a person that could damage that person's reputation, take great care to identify that person uniquely.

There are other laws in the business and consumer protection sphere in most jurisdictions that make it unlawful to make "deceptive and misleading" statements. In that event, incomplete information may be "deceptive and misleading".

  • Actual malice is required for public figures and limited purpose public figures Jun 11, 2016 at 17:10

In your example, nobody said anything false.

The list does include movies from 2003. The movie studio admits this. The person says it too. The person doesn't say the studio tried to hide it.

Nothing is wrong with what the person has said in your example.

  • Sorry since my example isn't perhaps the best; but basically I'm trying to ask if there is wrongdoing because the person is not reiterating the statement on the website.
    – Veer Singh
    Jan 8, 2016 at 14:33
  • No, laws generally can't compell speech except in some narrow cases for things like consumer protection.
    – user3851
    Jan 8, 2016 at 14:36
  • Hmm interesting. So hiding information won't be considered malice. Well dang! Anyways, this is why I love studying Government. Thanks for the answer!
    – Veer Singh
    Jan 8, 2016 at 14:46
  • There are some holdings that support defamation by implication, but simple withholding of information doesn't get to the standards needed by that set of cases.
    – user3851
    Jan 8, 2016 at 14:55
  • What about something like my saying "That candidate took $100 from my grandmother!" when what really happened was that my grandmother bought a used sofa from the candidate for $100? It's still true that the candidate took the $100.
    – Patrick87
    Jan 8, 2016 at 18:05

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