Online Defamation

Internet Defamation can be devastating to a person or small business who is a victim of it. Written defamation is a tort that is commonly known as “Libel.” Along with Libel and among other things, a negative posting made about someone can more particularly be “Tortious Interference with Business Opportunity or Economic Advantage.”

Since the very inception of the internet, individuals and their small businesses thrive and sometimes even survive upon a good online reputation that is sacrosanct to continued success in the business. Even one bad comment or view can completely unhinge a good business who firmly relies on their good online reputation. It is therefore essential for business owners of any size to keep their online reputation as clean as possible. Whether an online commenter is crazy or not, negative online content may sometimes be attacked, or answered, in an attempt at removing or diminishing such negative material. The stakes involved for a person or small business can be very high as an online reputation could have been built up over many years, and still vulnerable to unjustified attacks.

That said, a law firm is not a reputation repair company. Such companies are retained in general to bury the negative remarks among a slue of positive remarks created by the company on various platforms and various websites. Such reputation repair companies can be used either as an alternative to retaining a lawyer, or in tandem with it. Resorting to retaining counsel in an attempt to remove negative material online presents the victim with substantial financial risks. A law firm’s prosecution of a false and/or defamatory comment or remark on someone’s online reputation is an attempt by the victim to wipe away that which he or she can not stand to be out in public stream of communication.

However, federal law is clearly not on the victim’s side. The law generally protects the free speech of even crazy clients or customers or any one taking it upon themselves to harass somebody online, and hurt their business or their personal reputation. In fact, Google will typically not remove negative content for most reasons without a Court Order. https://support.google.com/legal/troubleshooter/1114905?hl=en#ts=1115645,3331068 . Resorting to legal counsel is an attempt at obtaining such a Court Order removing said content.

There are many different media by which a negative commenter can damage a person or a small business. He or she can write comments on the various websites, they can enter a review of a person or business on websites, they can enter negative ratings on still other websites, or they can create a negative blog or continue blogging against an individual in the hopes of damaging their online reputation. Smart attackers will make their statements online through their comments, reviews, ratings and blogs on a consistent basis so as to keep Google’s attention on the website to which they “contribute” in order to gain priority on Google’s search engine. The effect of a consistent negative commenter, reviewer or blogger is to raise the priority on Google when a person or business is searched to raise the priority of that particular website on Google’s search engine. As such, an online attacker clearly premeditates each of his or her acts knowing full well that the consistent addition of the negative content will reach the public and substantially damage the victim.

Resorting to litigation to repair an online reputation can only be done after a serious consultation with a competent litigator who understands the risks and costs of prosecuting. Please fill out the contact form or contact our office to discuss the prosecution of an online attacker so that you may know the clear risks involved in going forward.

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