An Internet Defamation Attorney Talks about Defamation of Character on the Internet

August 20th, 2012

Internet defamation, internet slander, internet libel, these are very common problems on the internet today, where virtually anyone can post anonymously a comment, a review or other posts that slights and damages the reputation of someone else, even if those statements are totally untrue.

Welcome to Defamation Law Radio. Internet defamation of character is as easy to perpetuate as a blog post, Facebook update, rating submission, or a forum comment. Your online reputation is measured by the websites return as Google search results. Do you know what people are saying and writing about you?

Internet defamation, internet slander, internet libel, these are very common problems on the internet today, where virtually anyone can post anonymously a comment, a review or other posts that slights and damages the reputation of someone else, even if those statements are totally untrue.

The difficulty in identifying the person who may have defamed someone or posted a defamatory libelous or slanderous comment can be challenging. You typically need an internet defamation attorney to help you understand your odds, your options and how much it is going to cost in terms of attorney’s fees to pursue a particular defamation item on the internet.

My name is Defamation of Character Attorney Enrico Schaefer and today we’re trying to understand a little bit about defamation of character on the internet. Now, we’ve all heard the commercials for Reputation.com and other websites on satellite radio, Sirius and XM. Those commercials are correct. Your reputation on the internet is invaluable.

The time that you best know how valuable your reputation is, is after someone says something really defamatory about you on the internet. Now if it’s internet libel, that is, when someone actually writes something about you and post it online. Internet slander is defamation of character which is spoken, which is typically an audio file or video file posted on the internet, for instance, YouTube.

So, you have these different types of defamation, libel and slander. You’ve got the different ways in which this information is posted on the internet. You also have social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook, which are a hornet’s nest of defamatory content.

Facebook defamation lawsuits are becoming more problematic and more popular as well. A good defamation of character attorney is going to be able to help you navigate each of these different types of defamation no matter where it is posted on the internet.

Defamation of character is something that is often misunderstood. Clients sometimes call and they say that “Someone has said something terrible about me on the internet.” They posted it on a website. That people have seen what has been posted. Perhaps it got posted on Facebook and they were contacted by friends or family and advised that there was this really “defamatory” statement posted on the internet.

But the question is, is it defamatory? Just because someone posts something really terrible about you on the internet doesn’t mean that it meets the legal definition of defamation or defamation of character. In order to be defamation of character under slander and libel law it has to be a false statement of fact. Now there are two components there. It has to be false, number one, and it has to be a statement of fact, number two.

So what is a false statement of fact? False statement of fact is something that can be factually proven as either true or false. We get this as defamation attorneys all the time. “How do I understand, Enrico, whether or not something is a defamatory statement of fact?” The big test is typically this. Can it be proven as true or false?

So, if I say that someone has engaged in an assault of another person at the bar on such a night that can be proven as true or false. If the person who’s the subject of the statement wasn’t even at the bar and certainly didn’t assault anyone, then that is potentially defamatory statement of fact. A person who is the subject of that statement may, subject to other requirements, be able to sue for defamation of character.

So that is a clear example of a statement of fact. If I say that I think that someone is going to go to the bar tonight and engage in an assault of someone else well that’s a future activity. That in all likelihood is not defamatory, because it is an opinion which can be proven neither true nor false.

Well, if it really was my opinion that I thought so-and-so was going to go to the bar and assault, then how are you going to prove, disprove that? How are going to prove that that was a false statement of fact? So, false statements of fact are the ones that can be proven as true or false. A defamation of character lawsuit is premised on your ability to prove false statement of fact.

Now, I want to talk a little bit about defamation of character laws and defamation of character on Facebook. Facebook, because of the ease of posting information, has become a very common place for defamation to occur. Because it is so visible to friends and family, you Facebook friends and the person who posted’s Facebook friends, there is very little question that in cases of defamation of character on Facebook that people actually saw the post.

So what you want to do if you are the subject of what you believe is a defamatory statement that is posted on Facebook is get a screen-capture so that they can’t go back and delete it and now you’re trying to guess as to how many people saw what it actually said, etc. Can you sue for defamation of character on Facebook? Absolutely, and we’ve done so in our law firm, successfully. So, you want to make sure you get the evidence.

The next thing you want to do is you want to very quickly contact an attorney because the longer that defamatory statement is up the worse damage it’s going to do, and the harder it is going to be able to deal with that issue. If you wait too long the statute of limitations for defamation of character could run. In many states that statute of limitations is one or two years, and it starts to run from, typically, the time the information is posted. You could lose your right to go back and do something about it later.

My name is Internet Defamation Attorney Enrico Schaefer. Today we’ve been talking about defamation of character laws, internet slander, and internet libel. I hope you learned something. We’ll see you next time.

You’ve been listening to Defamation Law Radio, where defamation of character, slander, and libel are always the topic of the day. Whether you are a defamation attorney or a client, we are the number one resource for all your defamation questions.