In this comprehensive article and blog post, we’re going to take you through how to remove yourself and defamation from Beware.org, what Beware.org is, common traits of user-generated content platforms and websites, and how such platforms stand to affect not only your personal reputation by professional one.
- To remove false and defamatory content from Beware.org, you’ll need to consult an experienced online defamation removal attorney. Beware.org has a hardline defamation removal policy, and views itself as a “permanent record” of business and personal review.
- There are several alternative methods of removal and suppression to minimize the impact of false and libelous posts on Beware.org. Specifically, users may be able to remove false online content and defamation from Beware.org if it has been materially altered by the website or their editor, by court ordered removal, or if it infringes on one’s copyright or intellectual property. Furthermore, online defamation victims may suppress negative and false content in Google and Internet search results by creating positive content of their own (setting up a blog), making one’s social media profiles public, and by linking between public accounts and commenting openly.
- Oftentimes it’s difficult to hold a website or user-generated content platform liable for defamatory and libelous content posted by third-parties, therefore, your best chance of legal recourse is against the individual poster or commenter. However, it can be difficult identifying an anonymous online poster and defamer, so make sure to consult an experienced defamation removal attorney.
Online Defamation Removal Tip: A person who communicates or publishes a defamatory and false statement of fact, which subsequently causes harm or injury to another person’s reputation can be referred to as a libeler (in the case of written defamation), slanderer (in the context of spoken defamation), defamer (the overarching term), or famacide (a rarely used and somewhat archaic term, meaning “to destroy another person’s reputation”).
If you’ve been the victim of false and defamatory posts on Beware.org or other user-generated content platforms/websites, contact the online defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law today! At Minc Law, we support and boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal and takedown rate, and have removed over 25,000 pieces of online content in our tenure. Rest assured when working with the Ohio-based defamation lawyers of Minc Law, you’re in good hands. And, we do it all for a flat, reasonable fee.
It’s time to take back your online narrative and reputation!
Table of Contents
What is Beware.org?
Beware.org is a user-generated content platform for persons to “provide an unbiased, secure, unadulterated and free platform where you can create alerts, contribute, and refer to information which may help you avoid risks and damages, both emotionally and financially.” Sounds good in theory right? Well, unfortunately, a good percentage of online user-generated content platforms (think of bulletin boards, forums, and social media websites) fall victim to and become a safe-haven of sorts for malicious online trolls and defamers looking to damage another’s reputation.
Oftentimes on such sites, including Beware.org, make no representation about the content and information posted, as the volume of posts far exceeds their capability of sorting through it. Specifically, Beware.org’s FAQ states, “There is absolutely no way that we can sift through and try to filter out whether or not someone is telling the truth or otherwise posting accurate and the most current information.” Essentially, they boast a disclaimer saying “well, things might slip through the cracks, but don’t blame us!”
Beware.org’s website is broken up into several sections, including a section for bad business, scams, bad service, crime, and cheaters. It also boasts “featured reviews and complaints” on its landing page, and enables users to receive up-to-date reviews and complaints straight to their inbox. Post-review or Alert, other users are then able to comment on the person and add fuel to the fire if they so want.
Furthermore, their FAQ reads: “We will not remove Alerts even when they are claimed to contain defamatory contents. We will not remove Alerts even if the original author asks us to do so. Also, contrary to what our critics would like to believe, we will NOT remove Alerts for money.” Such disclaimer often invites bad and defamatory behavior, as there’s generally no legal repercussions for persons who post malicious and defamatory online content on these types of websites.
Online Libel Removal Tip: The online defamation removal process can be a tricky one, so it’s important to make sure you document and preserve all possible evidence. We strongly recommend screenshotting all offensive and false material online, and reaching out to a trusted family member or friend to assist in the documentation process. Having a third-party asst in the collection and documentation of evidence can help refute claims by the opposing party that you ultimately tampered with the evidence!
Now, let’s turn to three common features plaguing user-generated review and alert websites – all of which shape a potentially defamatory and libelous online ecosystem and platform.
Core Features of User-Generated Review & Alert Websites
Most user-generated content platforms, such as Beware.org and other bulletin boards, forums, and social media websites, boast three fundamental features which pose a serious threat to your person and professional reputation.
Let’s take a look at the three.
A healthy percentage of user-generated content platforms lack even the most basic of verification procedures, often letting users register with no more than a throwaway email. What makes these websites so appealing to malicious and disgruntled posters is the anonymity granted to them when posting, and ultimately, lack of legal recourse and repercussions. After all, if you can’t identify a person, how are you going to hold them liable? Most victims don’t have the know-how or resources to locate malicious online posters and trolls by themselves, making it for a thriving defamation landscape.
Websites that do require users to connect some sort of digital footprint to their account and post often do not suffer from such high rates of online defamation and libel. Beware.org only prompts users to click “Create Alert,” to which they are presented with a box for filling out the name of an individual or company, and a box for a review or complaint. There does not appear to be any formal verification procedure, opening up the doors for who can post on their website.
Along with unverified posters and users, comes unverified content. It’s an unfortunate inevitably, and results due to the invincibility felt by anonymous and pseudo-anonymous posters online.
Copyright & Intellectual Property Infringement
Right when you land on Beware.org and other user-generated content websites, you’ll likely be confronted with an unflattering or unconsented photograph of a person. Keep in mind that unconsented photographs of persons which are subsequently disseminated and published online could give rise to a claim of copyright infringement. In the next section, we address several exceptions to The Communications Decency Act – a landmark piece of Internet legislation protecting user-generated content platforms and Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Copyright and intellectual property infringement is one of them. Note that with respect to photographs and other media (videos, GIFs, etc…), unless the poster or commenter took the photograph themself, they likely do not retain the copyright in the picture and are likely infringing on another person’s copyright. Furthermore, some user-generated content platforms become a hotbed for revenge porn, or nonconsensual pornograph, and post explicit photographs and media of innocent persons. Keep in mind that in the United States, revenge porn law and protects has rapidly evolved, and as of date of publish (December, 2018), most states have criminalized the posting and distribution of revenge porn.
You can read up further about revenge porn and check out our detailed guide here.
Hardline Removal Policies
As noted above, Beware.org takes a rather hardline stance with their removal policy, viewing themselves as a permanent record of reviews and Alerts. They even state that they will not remove defamatory content from their website. Such stance can ultimately pose a serious problem for innocent persons.
While some user-generated content websites have channels and mechanisms to remove online defamation and other illegal content, a good portion don’t. As we’ll tackle below, such websites and ISPs rely on their near-blanket immunity granted to them under Section 230 of The Communications Decency Act (we’ll address this in Section 3).
Finally, some user-generated content platforms, scam reporting websites, consumer advocacy forums, and cheater alert URLs partner with third-party arbitration firms in order to profit from such takedowns. It’s unknown what Beware.org’s operating procedures are for this, but be on alert for websites which charge exorbitant fees to remove defamatory content and material.
If you’re unsure of how to commence with an online defamation removal and takedown, it’s best to seek counsel in an experienced online defamation removal lawyer as soon as possible!
U.S. Defamation Law Fact: While one might think defamation could rise to the level of criminality, most states have actually repealed their laws criminalizing defamation. As such, it remains a civil wrong, and may more aptly be referred to as the “tort of defamation,” or “defamation of character.” Rather than a prison sentence, libel and slander generally give rise to monetary damages for the plaintiff.
Beware of websites and online platforms which support all three of the above features, as they pose a serious threat to your online reputation and personal/professional life. If you’ve found yourself posted about and defamed on one of these types of websites, contact an experienced defamation removal attorney now! Online defamation is like a wildfire, and the longer you let it sit and spread, the more damage it’s going to do.
Don’t hesitate and act now!
Who Can I Hold Liable For Defamation & False Posts on Beware.org?
First, let’s tackle who you CAN’T hold liable for online defamation and false posts. Due to a landmark piece of legislation titled “The Communications Decency Act (CDA),” most websites and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are immune from third-party content and information posted on their website. Specifically, Section 230 of the CDA (the governing provision instilling immunity) reads:
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Simply put, user-generated content platforms receive similar immunity from liability as a telephone company. While everyday criminal actions and topics are discussed across a telephone company’s phone lines, they are not held liable for anything that manifests itself in real life.
When determining if a website or ISP should be held liable for the content and information posted to their website, they employ a three-pronged test. The three pronged test looks to the following elements:
- Whether the defendant is a provider or user of an interactive computer service (typically a user-generated content platform),
- Whether they are treated by the plaintiff as the party who actually published the libelous content in question, &
- Whether the libelous and defamatory content at issue was provided by a third-party or the website itself.
If the website was found to be the creator, curator, and publisher of the libelous and false content in question, then they may be held liable under Section 230 of the CDA. Furthermore, the CDA also boasts several narrow exceptions for when users may hold them liable, such as in instances of criminal conduct, copyright infringement and other intellectual property claims, promissory estoppel, and if there’s encouragement to post illegal content.
Online Defamation Removal Law Tip: For businesses and companies, we strongly recommend establishing an online reputation and brand monitoring budget to help identify malicious and false online content and combat intellectual property infringers. Establishing a set budget to monitor your online reputation and brand is important for not only gauging public interest and feedback about your business or product, but for identifying false and defamatory content as soon as it’s posted. We also recommend setting up a Google Alerts account, to be notified immediately, anytime your name (or your business’s) is mentioned online.
Acknowledging their liability under the CDA, Beware.org notes three core reasons why they won’t remove alerts and content:
- They are not in the position to judge the credibility and truthfulness of the posted alerts. They are only liable and responsible for statements clearly marked as “Editor’s comments.” All information contributed and posted to Beware.org is the doing of third-parties.
- They are actively striving to preserve information and expose bad persons and business practices. Removing Alerts would ultimately deprive persons and consumers of a true and complete picture about a person, company, or business. Beware.org views themselves as a “permanent record” of all complaints.
- They want to prevent and eliminate bullying of post removals. Beware cites that many true and accurate reports could subsequently be bullied into being taken down.
So, who can you hold liable for online defamation and false posts on sites like Beware.org?
The anonymous poster.
However, this can be a difficult and arduous process, as it’s not always easy to identify anonymous online posters and trolls. We strongly recommend you consult an experienced online defamation removal attorney to assist in uncovering (and potentially subpoenaing) an anonymous poster’s identity and information.
The online abuse stops now!
How to Remove Defamation & Content From Beware.org
To remove online defamation and false content from Beware.org and other user-generated content platforms, you don’t always have to seek to identify the anonymous, malicious defamer and poster. There are several other viable options.
- Beware.org’s Editor Comments: While Beware.org does enjoy near blanket immunity under Section 230 of the CDA, it doesn’t exactly extend to anything. Remember, a core provision of the CDA acknowledges that websites and ISPs may be held liable in instances where they curated and created the content. In several cases, U.S. courts have found websites who edited and materially altered third-party content liable for online defamation and libel. So, if the content in question (which ultimately affects your reputation) is part of an editor’s comment or contribution, you may have legal recourse. However, we strongly recommend consulting an experienced online defamation attorney to learn more about your legal options and remedies.
- Court Ordered Removal: Although rarely employed, defamed persons and parties can sometimes seek to have false and defamatory online content removed by declaration of a court order. However, we also recommend contacting an experienced defamation attorney to assist with obtaining one.
- Suppressing Negative & Defamatory Search Results: If you’re looking for a free and straightforward way to “hide” content, or suppress its visibility in Internet and Google search results, utilizing some simple SEO techniques and tactics is a commonly used method. It’s important to understand that Google and other search engines reward “good content,” meaning if the content of a website is constructive and brings value to the community, it will likely be pushed to the top of search results. In order to suppress negative and defamatory search results, we recommend starting a blog (and making sure to update it frequently), making your social media profiles public, start openly commenting with those social media profiles, and link between all public accounts and pages of yours – as this will help create a “spiderweb” of positive and constructive content which could ultimately appear before false and negative search results.
The point is, there’s numerous ways for you to remove defamatory and false online content from Beware.org and other online platforms, you just need to be proactive. In order to explore your legal and removal options, it’s always recommended you reach out to an experienced defamation removal attorney to assist in the process. Doing so will not only save you time, but potential headache and hassle in the future.
Online Defamation Law Fact: Defamation may also be referred to as traducement, character assassination, vilification, or disparagement. Furthermore, defamation may be broken down into two core types: libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation). Make sure to acquaint yourself with the differences between the two, as it could ultimately impact your legal rights and remedies (most specifically, the statute of limitations time frame to commence a defamation action).
Work With the Online Defamation Removal Attorneys of Minc Law Now!
While websites like Beware.org and other user-generated content platforms “provide guidelines” for creating credible and truthful Alerts/reviews/content, that’s unfortunately not always the reality of the situation. If you’ve been the victim of online defamation or false, malicious attacks on Beware.org (or similar sites), contact the online defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law today!
At Minc Law, we’ve removed over 25,000 pieces of defamatory online content, and boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal rate. Furthermore, we’ve litigated in over 19 states and 3 countries, so rest assured, we know United States defamation Law. And, we conduct defamation removals and takedowns all for a flat, reasonable fee.
Here’s what you can expect when working with the Cleveland-based defamation attorneys of Minc Law:
- Respect & Courtesy: We understand how overwhelming and stressful online defamation and false attacks can be, so always know that we’re on your side. After all, your goals are our goals. Let us fight for you and help you take back your online narrative.
- Open Dialogue & Communication: Some defamation removal attorneys go missing once the defamation process has commenced. Not us. At Minc Law, we understand how important it is to be kept up-to-date with the details of your case and takedown. We’re here to keep you in the loop no matter what!
- Businesses & Websites Respond to Us: Having secured the removal of over 25,000 pieces of online content, we know who to work with and how to contact them. Specifically, in our tenure, we’ve worked tirelessly with website administrators, online content managers, and third-party arbitration firms to secure permanent and swift defamation removals and takedowns. Businesses and websites respond to Minc Law!