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Understanding Online Defamation

Anyone can find themselves as the target of defamatory comments. Of course, some are at a much higher risk of having this happen. This includes individuals who are frequently in the public eye, such as celebrities and politicians, as well as businesses and other organizations. High-ranking executive employees may also find themselves under significant public scrutiny. While there have always been ways for individuals to make defamatory comments about others, the rise of the internet and social media has only made this easier to share.

Online defamation is just as serious as any other type of defamation, and when your reputation and career are on the line, you need to take action. Learn more about online defamation.

What is Online Defamation?

Online defamation involves defamatory comments that are published online. This can include social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, blogs, and review websites like Yelp. When defamatory comments are made orally, they’re considered slander, but when they’re out in writing, they’re considered libel.

While libel comments have often been published in media outlets such as newspapers, the internet and social media provide many more channels to spread defamatory comments. Libel is often considered more serious than slander as written comments can have a longer-lasting impact. As everyone knows, once something is on the internet, there’s no getting rid of it. If you’ve been the target of online defamation, you need to take action to restore your reputation.

How Do You Prove Online Defamation?

To have a defamation claim, plaintiffs must prove the following elements:

  • The defendant made a false statement about the plaintiff;
  • The defendant made this comment to someone else;
  • The defendant acted with at least some level of negligence; and
  • The plaintiff suffered damages due to the comment.

A defamation attorney will be essential in helping determine if you have a claim and proving that you were the victim of online defamation.

Who is Liable for Online Defamation?

It may seem unclear as to who is liable for online defamatory comments. You may feel like you should take action against the platform where the comment was made and shared. As these companies have the resources to pay for the damages the comments made, it might seem obvious that they should be held liable. However, it’s very unlikely that a company can be held accountable for comments one of its users makes, even if these comments have a negative impact on you. The Communications Decency Act protects interactive computer services from being held liable for what users post using its services.

Rather than the platform where someone shared the defamatory comment, the person or entity that made the comment can be held liable.

However, you might not always know the identity of the person making the defamatory comments right away. Many online channels give users anonymity, which can lead to many more making false, harmful statements if they believe their identities are protected. There are methods of uncovering an anonymous user’s identity, so it’s still worth it to consult with a defamation attorney to learn your options.

Protect Your Reputation with Bantle & Levy

False comments made on social media or elsewhere online can have serious effects on the subjects of these comments. Unfortunately, recovering from these comments is often not quick or easy. Don’t put your years of hard work at risk by not taking proper action against defamatory comments made online and on social media.

Bantle & Levy has helped many executives defend themselves against libel and slander. Contact our defamation attorneys today.

Bantle & Levy

Lee Bantle is a partner at Bantle & Levy LLP. He has extensive legal expertise, admitted to the bars of the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. With a distinguished academic background and clerkship experience, he has been recognized as a top-rated civil rights attorney and esteemed lawyer. In addition to his successful career, he has actively contributed to various legal organizations and serves as a faculty member for NYU's Annual Workshop on Employment Law for Federal Judges.

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