In Order to Sue for Defamation of Character, You Have to Have Character

April 21st, 2011

One of the things that a client needs to understand when they believe they have been the victim of defamation of character on the Internet is that they are putting their own character directly at issue.   People with strong, positive reputations are potential plaintiffs.  Clients who have a poor reputation within their community have a much more difficult decision to make.  Suing for defamation of character, especially when it is on the Internet, is always a difficult decision.  Clients need to understand the challenges involved.  They also need to be fully apprised by their attorney about the fact that they will be opening themselves up to discovery about character issues.

Technically, when someone publishes a false statement of fact on the Internet, it is “libel” as opposed to slander.  Libel is written defamation.  Slander is spoken defamation.  Internet defamation and libel claims pose additional challenges.  When the person who posted the comment, bulletin board item, Facebook post, Twitter tweat or website is anonymous, you need a qualified Internet law attorney to help you understand how to uncover the identity of the anonymous poster.

Internet defamation claims not only involve a solid understanding of defamation law, but a solid understanding of how the Internet works, how terms of service (TOS) may affect the ability to have the offending content removed, and how to identify anonymous posters of defamatory material.