Peachtree City officials are considering a new law allowing them to sue social media critics. (Shutterstock)
PEACHTREE CITY, GA — City officials are considering passing a law that would allow them to sue anyone on social media who they believe have defamed them. The ordinance, set to come before the Peachtree City council on Thursday, would allow a council member, the city manager or any city worker to sue its residents, at taxpayer expense, for damages.
"Whereas in the normal execution of their duties, elected and appointed officials and employees of the city may be subject to unwarranted public defamation when formal complaints are unwarranted and … the City Council deems it in the best interest of the city to indemnify, defend and protect city elected and appointed officials … Peachtree City shall fund legal action on the part of any elected official, appointed official, or employee … who has been defamed in a public media outlet," the ordinance, which can be read here, says.
"It’s a brave new world," City Manager Jon Rorie told The Citizen. "It’s not about people criticizing. It’s about being defamed. People think they have the luxury of saying false things about people. No one has the right to say I, or anyone working or volunteering for the city, am corrupt and attack me publicly."
According to the ordinance, if the city wins the lawsuit, the losing party must pay the city’s legal expenses along with any damages. Besides residents, media outlets could also be sued.
Rorie told The Citizen the negative comments would have to rise to the standard of defamation, slander or libel.
Peachtree City is located in Fayette County, south of downtown Atlanta.