What is Online Defamation, and How to Deal With It?



In this era of technology, more and more people are experiencing online defamation, which often involves business competitors, online trolls, ex-employees or past partners. Each of them may try to intentionally ruin your online reputation by posting negative content regarding you or your company.

There are some people who may not know about ‘what is online defamation‘ and the consequences related to it. The real-life consequences of a damaged reputation can be many, from less business revenue, difficulty getting work or long-lasting emotional repercussions. In this guide, you will learn more about online defamation and the ways to deal with it.

What Is Online Defamation?

Defamation of character, also known as defamation, is the term for any type of false statement that people make that harms another individual’s reputation. In places like the US, UK and Canada, defamation is considered a civil matter, not a criminal one. 

This indicates that you can sue the offending person for damages and not put them behind bars. But even in the case of defamation, there are two forms: libel (written or fixed statements) or slander (spoken statements). As the internet is a fixed medium, most of the online content falls into the libel category. 

Defamation Laws 

In the case of defamation, there are also defamation laws that you must be aware of. Though these laws vary from state to state, the threshold of determining whether a statement is a defamation is the same. For any statement to be qualified as defamation, it must be one of the following:

  • Published: This indicates that the statement was made public, and a book doesn’t need to be printed. Anything that you share on the internet is considered published.  
  • False: If a statement is not considered to be false, it will not be able to harm your reputation logically. Opinions such as ‘this is the worst steak I’ve eaten so far’ does not count as defamation. This is because it is not easy to prove that these statements are untrue. 

It is a known fact that no one can know or judge the quality of food that anyone else has consumed. But if someone states, do not arrive at this business, or they stole $200 from me and are unable to prove their statements, it will be considered defamation. It was probably a lie that they already knew and only said to damage the reputation of an individual or a store.

  • Injurious: Before you know more about online defamation, you must know that a defamation law’s point is to compensate individuals for injuries to their reputations. This is why it is important to show how any false statement has damaged your reputation or that of your business. For instance, the reputation has hurt your business or cost you your job. 

Due to this reason, people who have bad reputations, to begin with, usually do not benefit from a defamation lawsuit. This is important for you to know if you are looking to file a defamation claim. 

  • Unprivileged: In specific cases or situations, people are privileged and cannot be sued for defamation. For instance, when an individual is testifying in court or when someone tries to warn other people about dangerous things. 

Should You Look Forward to Filing a Lawsuit? 

Regarding online defamation, most people usually think,’ should I hire a lawyer?’; the answer will depend on your situation. In some specific cases, filing defamation can be a smart thing to do, but this alone is not enough. You may be able to win legal respite, but that might not be able to stop the defamation information from spreading across the internet.  

When deciding whether you want to take a legal route or not, you must consider various factors. Some of the factors can include the strength of your reputation before the defamation attack. It is also important to see how much time and money you have available to devote yourself to the case. 

In the case of online defamation, the essential thing you must know is that the Streisand effect can trigger a lawsuit. This is the attempt to cover up important or sensitive information that, in turn, ends up amplifying it. This is especially if the information in question is scandalous or worthy of gossip. 


What Must You Consider Before Deciding to Hire a Lawyer?

A thing that you must consider before looking to hire a lawyer is that lawsuits can often be lengthy and expensive, no matter what the case is. This is due to the fact that it can be tough to identify the individual defaming you, and it can also be hard to prove if anyone was involved in defamation. Know How to Prove Defamation of Character?

When you cannot identify your defamer, you will be unable to legally make the websites where the defamer posted the offensive content to remove them.

What Are the Non-Legal Options for Dealing With Defamation? 

Whether you take legal options or not, you must make a decision where non-legal actions cannot reduce the online visibility of defamation. Some of the options that you have are as follows:

  • You can ignore it 

Ignoring online defamation usually indicates that you will not publicly respond to it. This can help you to avoid drawing more attention to the negative statement. You can consider this a good approach when dealing with a low-level defamation case that cannot significantly damage your reputation. 

  • You can respond to it. 

Responding to online defamation indicates that you are publicly replying to the defamer on the exact platform where the defamatory content exists. The main strategy here is to defend your name and help prevent the further spread of false information. 

This is the approach to choose if you are dealing with defamatory statements that can seriously damage your business. It can be statements such as someone accusing you of criminality.The best thing you can choose to do in this case is to reply swiftly and politely despite how rude or hostile your defamer is. 

These are online defamation cases where people get mad and are not able to keep their cool. When you maintain a professional demeanour in such cases, you must demonstrate to everyone who has already seen the defamatory statement that you have nothing to hide. This way, you will be able to force the people reading to wonder who is more believable in this case. 

  • You can look to get it deleted. 

This specific approach involves asking the site owner, editor or webmaster who makes decisions at the site to remove the content from the site. You can choose this tactic if you have been significantly damaged due to the online defamatory remark. 

Bottom Line 

You can read the guide above to learn more about ‘what is online defamation‘. If you are a victim of defamation and do not know what to do, you can take the help of a reputed lawyer in your area. You can choose a Defamation Lawyers Perth from a law firm that has handled defamation cases before. 


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