Three recent appellate cases have held that plaintiffs can sue online defamers in the state in which the plaintiff resides (not just where the alleged defamer posted the content). This means that companies and their employees can sue or be sued in any court in the country, regardless of where the company or its website is actually based.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the Supreme Court of Florida, and the Supreme Court of Ohio each held that jurisdiction is proper where a defamation defendant intended his or her statements to cause injury in that jurisdiction and the statements indeed did have such an effect.
Of course, this inquiry is clearer in cases involving communications sent by mail, email, fax or phone to a specific recipient than in cases involving communications that are merely posted onto a website. However, the Courts reasoned that, while Internet content may be equally accessible from anywhere, search engines and other customization technologies allow content creators to target particular audiences in particular places.
The Florida Supreme Court went a step further than the others and held that online defamers can be liable in any state in which their content is accessible online (meaning anywhere) even absent any specific efforts to target that jurisdiction because, by posting content online, the poster intends for it to be accessible everywhere.