The internet offers users the freedom to share their views and opinions through online reviews and social media. With this, the risk of defamatory statements against individuals and businesses is at an all-time high. While social media sites allow users to share opinions and information, false statements on them can cause immense financial and reputational damage to people and businesses.
The biggest concern is that such content is unregulated and spreads like wildfire. Thankfully, potential victims can fall back on defamation law to seek protection against such situations. Here are some facts that you need to understand about dealing with defamatory content via proper legal action.
The Coverage Of Online Defamation
Defamation refers to a statement published intentionally to injure the reputation of a person or an organization. Published in this context indicates that the statement was made public by posting it online on a social media platform. Here are some specific situations that need to be considered in the context of online defamation.
- A plaintiff has a valid claim only if the defamatory statement has affected their reputation adversely. If someone posts a negative review against your business on social media, you can sue them as long as the statement causes damage to your reputation and revenues.
- Theoretically, statements of opinions may be protected from libel suits because these are not statements of facts. However, an opinion in an online review is deemed as a statement of fact if a reasonable person may view it as a statement of fact. It has to be an honest opinion based on proper material and related to a matter of public interest.
- Another defamation violation that is common these days on social media is the sharing of modified photos to scandalize persons or businesses. Such photos have the potential to go viral, which makes them risky.
Seeking Legal Respite For Online Defamation
Victims of online defamation have the right to file a claim against the individual or entity that posted the defamatory statement against them. On the other hand, they may consider the option of bringing a lawsuit against the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the site that hosts the defamatory content. Although the latter seems to be a more lucrative alternative considering that sites like Facebook or Google can pay massive damages, your defamation lawyer may not recommend doing so. While it is not a legitimate legal option in some countries, proving a claim against ISPs and sites is challenging even where you can do it.
Filing a claim against online defamation
Even though online defamation claims sound complicated, you should definitely file them if you are implicated falsely. It is important to hire a specialist attorney and file a lawsuit in an appropriate state court, depending on your jurisdiction. Once again, it can be a complicated issue because it depends on factors like the state of your residence and the state where the defamer lives.
Although online defamation is more common than ever, dealing with it legally is not as simple as it should be. If you believe that your reputation has taken a hit because of something stated against you on social media, taking quick action through an expert is the best thing to do.