It is undeniable that the social media makes sharing of information remarkably easy and reinforces the right to freedom of expression of the individual. However, the lot of every right is that it has limits. A strain on the right to freedom of expression is the duty not to cause injury to another person without lawful excuse. This is because every person is entitled to respect of his person and his good name.
Nowadays, some social media users routinely cross the line between their right to express themselves freely and their duty not to cause harm to others. One reason which accounts for this trend is clout chasing. Some people are desperate to feed off the popularity of others in order to attract attention to themselves even at the expense of the dignity, reputation and rights of others. Accordingly, there is proliferation of false online publication particularly about celebrities. The global reach of social media aggravates the effect of this deliberate falsehood and makes containing the publication difficult once it is made. This falsehood is sometimes peddled in the name of pranking.
This article looks at the nature of liability, civil and criminal, that may arise from an injurious false online publication and considers if prank is a defence available to a defendant under Nigerian law.