A woman has been fined more than $500,000 for posting eight words on Facebook.
In 2015, Jacquelyn Hammond, from Asheville, posted a comment on Facebook, accusing an acquaintance, Davyne Dial, of killing her son.
Ms Dial, general manager of a local radio station, lost her son a few years ago in a gun accident and had nothing to do with it.
Yet despite this, Hammond wrote: ‘I didn’t get drunk and kill my kid.’
The pair became friends when they tried to gain control over the radio station but their relationship broke down when they started working together.
After seeing the comment, Ms Dial decided to sue Hammond for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Michael Wimer, Ms Dial’s lawyer, stated in court documents that the false comment about Ms Dial ‘blatantly accused (Dial) of a reprehensible felony crime of manslaughter or murder’.
Speaking to her local paper after the verdict, Ms Dial said: ‘This woman had been carrying on a smear campaign against me for nearly a year on social media.
‘And social media makes it very easy to do this. There are no filters to say whatever you think behind the safety of your screen.
‘She had made other untrue statements through the years, but when this happened, it was very painful.’
Last month, Ms Dial was awarded $250,000 in actual damages and $250,000 in punitive damages, for a total judgment of $500,000.
Missy Owen, a lawyer in North Carolina, said people should learn from Hammond’s mistake.
She said: ‘I think people today don’t recognise the importance of their words. Just because it is very easy to get your words out there does not mean you should.
‘You can get in trouble anytime you make a false statement about someone else that damages their character or reputation.
‘Anybody who learns about this case should think twice before angrily posting on their Facebook page about somebody else, if what they have to say is not true.’