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A false statement that injures someone's reputation and exposes him to public contempt, hatred, ridicule or condemnation. If the false statement is published in print or through broadcast media, such as radio or TV, it is called libel. If it is only spoken, it is called slander. Libel is considered more serious than slander because the communication is permanently recorded in print or because it was broadcast to a large number of people. Defamation is a tort (a civil wrong) that entitles the injured party to compensation if he can prove that the statement damaged his reputation. For example, if a worker can show that she lost her job because a co-worker started a false rumor that she came to work drunk, she might be able to recover monetary damages . In certain extreme cases, such as a false accusation that a person committed a crime or has a feared disease, the plaintiff need not prove that she was damaged because the law presumes that damage was done. These cases are called "libel per se" or "slander per se." Public officials or figures who want to prove defamation must meet a higher standard than the standard for private citizens; they must prove that the person who issued the false statements knew they were false or recklessly disregarded a substantial likelihood that they were false.

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