What is Internet Defamation? And How Do I Stop It?

March 5th, 2011

Internet Defamation is a blog post, comment, web site, Facebook post or comment, Twitter tweet or other on-line false statement of fact  and that reflects negatively on your reputation.  Because internet defamation is by definition written rather than oral, it is technically internet  libel. Slander involves oral false statements of fact.

Defamation per se involves false statements of fact which presumes damages.  That is, no damages must be proven as an element of the defamation, libel or slander claim.  Defamation per se  occurs in most states when the false internet post, tweet, review or comment  (i) accuses someone of a crime; (ii) alleges that someone has a disease; (iii) suggests that a person or business is unfit to conduct their business or trade; or (iv) imputes sexual misconduct.

Internet law involves the attempt to apply traditional legal principles – such as the law of defamation – when the conduct complained of occurs on the internet. Courts have struggled to apply defamation law in the context of the internet for obvious reasons.  Before the world wide web, few people wielded the power of the pen.  Now, everyone has a global audience and can express themselves as easily is key-stroking a blog post, blog comment, bulletin board post, Facebook post or comment, Twitter tweet, web site comment or customer review.

An attorney handling an internet defamation case has much bigger challenges than when defamation occurs off-line. Sometimes identifying a web site owner or other anonymous author of defamatory content can be difficult. There are dozens of different and specific strategies for dealing with defamatory statements on the internet.  Many strategies require expertise in back-end DNS, domain registrars, domain registrant search, proxy services, Section 230 Immunity under the Communications Decency Act, User Generated Content, IP tracking, ISP subpoenas and related issues.  Sometimes, defamation occurs on familiar sites such as www.ComplaintsBoard.com or www.RipOffReport.com which were designed to promote and drive advertising revenue from online libel.  Sometimes, it is an competitor disguised as one of your customers who is posting false information.  Understanding how to deal with these types of web sites is critical.

You should speak with an attorney who specializes in internet defamation to learn more about your options, the cost of each option and potential return on investment if you should be able to remove the libelous statements.  Every situation is different. Not every fight is worth it.  If you are losing business or your reputation has been attacked, sometimes you have no choice but to fight.  Chances are, we can help.