What is Online Defamation?
Internet trolls, business competitors, or former romantic partners may be intentionally trying to ruin your reputation by posting negative reviews or information abou you or your company. What can you do about online defamation? Defamation of character—usually shortened to just “defamation”—is the catch-all legal term for any false statement someone makes that harms another person’s reputation.
There are serious consequences that can come from online defamation. A damaged reputation can hinder job prospects and opportunities, and can lead to lasting emotional issues.
If you are facing online defamation, this blog will give you some options on how to best proceed.
Types of Defamation –
Libel – Written or fixed statements – the internet is a fixed medium. Most online information and videos fall into this libel category.
Slander– Spoken statements.
What Constitutes Defamation?
To qualify as defamation, the content must be:
- Published – The statement must be made public, whether in a book or posted on the internet.
- False – A statement must be false to hurt your reputation. A deliberate lie may be made to damage your reputation. Opinions are not typically considered defamation, because they can’t be proven.
- Hurtful – You must prove that a false statement has damaged your reputation or hurt your business to have a defamation lawyer represent you.
Should You File a Defamation Lawsuit?
Filing a lawsuit can be a smart strategy, but it may not stop defamatory information from spreading over the internet. You must decide how much your reputation has been hurt and how much time and money you have to devote to the case as lawsuits can be lengthy and expensive. Ensure filing a lawsuit is worth it and will not cause the negative marks to implode of curiosity, causing more damage to your reputation.
Dealing with Online Defamation in Non-Legal Ways
Even if you plan to take legal action, you will not want to decrease online visibility of the defamation. You can do this by:
- Ignoring the online defamation and not responding to it. This is a good approach for negative reviews. Most readers will know which reviews are from disgruntled customers or employees.
- Respond to the defamation by replying to the defamer on the same platform that the derogatory content exists. It may be a wise idea to protect your reputation. This is particularly wise if you are convicted of a crime you did not commit. Not responding could be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
- Try to get the defamatory comments deleted by requesting it be removed by the webmaster or editor. This option is effective because websites will often remove content that violates their Terms of Service.
- Suppress the information or manage your online reputation. You could create a blog to rank highly for your name or strategically publish this new content to specific websites on a schedule that tells Google the content is valuable. Use search-engine-optimization (SEO) techniques to promote your existing content and move it up Google’s rankings.
Paul J. Burkhart
Online defamation can hurt your reputation, employers, friends, and family for years to come. Paul J. Burkhart can help you preserve your good name. Paul J. Burkhart is an experienced business attorney who can draft an indemnity agreement and help both parties understand what it covers.
Our team assists both individuals, and business clients with all their legal needs, including business and Corporate Transactions, Business/Commercial and Civil Litigation, Real Estate, Intellectual Property, Family Law, and Estate Planning matters. We are a full-service private law firm ready to assist you with any request, large or small. Call 561-880-0155 or visit our website.
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