SNAILS Silences False Accusations, Wins $1.5 Million Defamation Lawsuit

A wave of relief washed over the electronic music scene over the weekend as Montreal-based dubstep artist SNAILS (real name Frédérik Durand) secured a decisive victory in a high-profile defamation lawsuit. The judge ruled in Durand’s favor, finding Michaela Higgins, the creator of the now-defunct Instagram account @evidenceagainstnails, liable for making false sexual assault accusations. Durand was awarded a hefty $1.5 million in damages, a significant sum that reflects the severity of the online smear campaign he endured.

The case stemmed from a series of anonymous posts on the @evidenceagainstnails account, which surfaced in late 2022. The accusations, ranging from sexual assault to pressuring women to drink alcohol, were levied against Durand with little to no evidence. The swiftness with which the accusations spread online, fueled by the #MeToo movement, caused significant damage to Durand’s reputation and career. Gigs were cancelled, sponsorships pulled, and much uncertainty hung over the artist’s life. Durand, however, refused to be silenced. He denied the allegations and opted to pursue legal action, a decision that many in the industry watched with bated breath. The lawsuit served as a crucial test case in the #MeToo era, raising questions about the delicate balance between holding perpetrators accountable and protecting individuals from false accusations amplified by social media.

“This ruling is so important because it shows that the truth still matters,” said Durand in a statement. “I am eager to move forward and rebuild in the aftermath of the damage she has caused.”

The court case highlighted the dangers of “cancel culture” and the potential for social media to amplify false information.

“This ruling is extremely significant both legally and for our society,” said Durand’s attorney, Ellery Lew. “It recognizes the importance of the #MeToo movement but also shines a light on the incredible harm that can result when an innocent person becomes the target of an unwarranted social media firestorm.”

“There appears to exist a common misconception amongst social media users that reposting defamatory content generated by others is a protected activity, under the doctrine of fair comment or otherwise. This misunderstanding should be corrected as firmly as possible. A repetition, republication or repost of a defamatory statement is every bit as defamatory.” (From page 13 of the ruling)

While this case doesn’t diminish the importance of the #MeToo movement, it does highlight the need for a more nuanced approach. Moving forward, a collective effort is required to ensure true victims are heard and protected, while also safeguarding individuals from being falsely accused in the digital age. SNAILS’ victory may mark a turning point, encouraging a more measured and evidence-based approach to online accusations, and can provide a legal foundation for other musicians and artists who are targeted by cancel culture.