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Can a Retweet be Defamation? Retweeting Defamatory Content

Can a retweet be defamation? Learn the legal implications of retweeting defamatory content and discover key insights from the Delhi High Court’s judgment in Arvind Kejriwal v State & Anr case. Stay informed, stay protected.

In today’s world of social media, when you hit that retweet button, it’s like sharing something with the whole world in a flash. But it’s not just harmless fun anymore. There are serious legal consequences to consider when you retweet something, especially because your actions can reach people all over the world in just seconds.

Recently, the Delhi High Court delivered a landmark judgment shedding light on whether retweeting can constitute defamation. Let’s delve into the details of this case and explore the broader implications it holds for creators, influencers, and social media users, particularly public figures.

Understanding the Case: Arvind Kejriwal v State & Anr

The case in question revolves around Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was sued for defamation after retweeting a video titled ‘BJP IT Cell Part 2’ made by YouTuber Dhruv Rathee. The plaintiff, Vikas Sankrityayan, alleged that Kejriwal’s retweet caused harm to his reputation, and thus, initiated legal proceedings against him.

Can a Retweet be Defamation? The Legal Analysis by the Delhi High Court

In its judgment, the Delhi High Court made several noteworthy observations. Firstly, it emphasized that every retweet of defamatory content constitutes ‘publication’ under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The court highlighted that when a person with a significant following retweets a post, it is perceived as an endorsement or acknowledgment of the original content. Therefore, retweeting defamatory content without a disclaimer can invite both penal and civil actions.

It was held that “every ‘retweet’ of defamatory imputation would ordinarily amount to ‘publication’ under Section 499 of IPC, it is ultimately for the person so aggrieved to decide as to which retweet caused more harm to his reputation, and inter alia lowered his moral or intellectual character or his credibility among the members of society“.

Legal Implications of Retweeting Defamatory Content: Lesson for Creators, Influencers and Social Media Users!

Importance of Verification: The court stressed the importance of independent verification before retweeting or reposting content. Social media users must exercise due diligence to ensure the accuracy and genuineness of the information they share. Failure to do so could lead to legal repercussions, especially if the content is defamatory.

Responsibility of Public Figures: Public figures, including politicians and social influencers, bear a higher responsibility when it comes to disseminating information on social media platforms. Their large following amplifies the reach and impact of their posts and retweets. Hence, they must exercise caution to avoid spreading defamatory content inadvertently.

Disclaimers Matter: In cases where users are unsure about the accuracy of the content they’re sharing, incorporating a disclaimer can mitigate the risk of defamation. A simple statement indicating that the user hasn’t verified the content’s authenticity can help protect against legal liabilities.

Navigating the Digital Landscape Responsibly

The Delhi High Court’s ruling serves as a wake-up call for creators, influencers, and social media users to tread cautiously in the digital realm. While platforms like Twitter offer unparalleled opportunities for expression and engagement, they also come with legal responsibilities. Whether you’re a creators, influencers, public figure or an ordinary user, the implications of your online actions can have far-reaching consequences.


In conclusion, while a retweet may seem innocuous at first glance, its potential to cause harm to someone’s reputation cannot be underestimated. As we navigate the complex terrain of social media, let’s remember to exercise prudence, verify information, and uphold the principles of responsible online conduct. By doing so, we can contribute to a safer and more respectful digital environment for all.

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Can a Retweet be Defamation? Retweeting Defamatory Content
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