If you or your business has been attacked by libelous or false statements published on the Internet, it’s important you contact an experienced defamation removal attorney today to discuss your options of how to remove defamation and libel. While filing a lawsuit over defamatory Internet postings on blogs can potentially lead to awards of monetary damages (along with having the content removed from the Internet), it’s important to consider and discuss all of your legal options.
Internet blog posts and online forums have become two of the most popular online mediums for malicious posters and Internet trolls to attack and defame others, so it’s important to approach both with caution and familiarize yourself with your options (and the likelihood) of legal recourse.
In this blog post we’re going to take you through:
- The differences between libel and slander,
- What user-generated content platforms (UGCs) are,
- How UGCs pose a threat to your personal and professional reputation, and
- An important case illustrating how it’s important for defamation victims to consider all options before filing a lawsuit to remove defamation from Internet blog websites.
Online Defamation Removal Tip: Starting a blog of your own is an effective way to suppress negative and defamatory Internet search results. Unfortunately, no matter how much you update it and post, you’ll never completely remove offensive content from the Internet. Working with an experienced online defamation removal attorney is an effective way to quickly and permanently remove libelous and malicious content.
Have you been falsely attacked or accused on an online blog or website? Or have you been the victim of other defamatory online posts? Reach out to the online defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law today to get started with the removal process!
At Minc Law, we’ve secured hundreds of online defamation takedowns and removals, and all for a flat, reasonable fee. We’ve litigated and commenced defamation lawsuits in over 19 states and 3 countries, so rest assured when working with Cleveland-based Minc Law lawyers, you’re in good hands.
It’s time to put an end to the online abuse today!
At Minc Law, we’re here to fight for your reputation.
Table of Contents
- The Facts: What’s the Difference Between Libel & Slander?
- User-Generated Content Platforms: How Do They Pose a Threat to Your Online Reputation?
- Who Can I Hold Liable For Online Defamation on Internet Blog Sites?
- Homeowners’ Associations, Internet Blogs, & Defamation
- Work With the Defamation Lawyers of Minc Law to Remove Libel From Internet Blog Sites!
The Facts: What’s the Difference Between Libel & Slander?
When confronting defamation, it’s important to understand the most fundamental idea behind it – the difference between libel and slander. Familiarizing yourself with the two could be crucial for your claim, as depending on the form in which the defamation is conveyed, there may be differing statutes of limitations.
That’s right, simply misidentifying online defamation and other defamatory communications could mean the difference between you being able to lodge and bring your defamation claim, or being barred completely.
Let’s take a look at the definitions of both libel and slander.
- Libel: a false written or published communication made to a third-party, which ultimately damages or causes harm to another person’s reputation,
- Slander: a false spoken communication made to a third-party, which ultimately damages or causes harm to another person’s reputation.
All defamation is not the same. Unfortunately, the general public typically tends to confuse the two definitions, commonly referring to all defamatory and false communications as “slander,” when in reality libel claims constitute the bulk of actionable defamation claims.
Furthermore, when bringing a libel or slander claim against a defendant, it’s important for a plaintiff not only prove the statement made was a false assertion of fact, but that it:
- Actually communicated to a third-party,
- Made with at least negligence (and in cases of public figures or public officials “actual malice”), &
- Caused damage to the plaintiff’s reputation or was ‘defamatory per se’.
Defamation Law Tip: Curious about some of the most common defenses to libel and slander actions? (1) Truth/falsity, (2) Opinion, (3) Consent, (4) Fair comment, and (5) Privilege.
User-Generated Content Platforms: How Do They Pose a Threat to Your Online Reputation?
Since the topic of this blog post is about Internet blogs, it would only be proper for us to explore the underlying concept driving online Internet blogs and Internet forums – the user-generated content platform (UGC).
While the term might sound complex and confusing, it’s actually quite straightforward. And, we bet you likely interact with user-generated content platforms everyday on the Internet. Simply put, user-generated content platforms and websites are online mediums where the crux of their content is created and generated by users and made publicly available. Like we said, you likely interact with user-generated content platforms everyday on the Internet.
For example, social media websites are the most popular form of user-generated content platforms, along with:
- YouTube videos,
- E-commerce websites, &
Having gained popularity in the early to mid-2000s, user-generated content platforms have manifested themselves in countless forms today, and embody a societal shift towards democratizing the way we consume information. Pre-UGCs, online consumers and readers were guided and directed with what content they should be consuming. Now, with the creation of UGCs, users are the actual ones creating and guiding the dissemination of such content.
So, what do UGCs and Internet blogs have to do with online defamation?
Well, in order to protect the democratization of online information and consumption, the U.S. government deemed it appropriate to implement specific safeguards – in order to further creation and open discussion of information.
Having implemented specific safeguards, specifically in the form of Internet and ISP legislation, defamation law and the ability for an online defamation victim to sue and recover was drastically affected.
In the next section we’re going to address the landmark piece of legislation drafted by the U.S. government limiting an online defamation victim’s ability to sue a website.
Online Defamation Tip: With the extent of the world wide web, it’s important to stay proactive in protecting and monitoring your online reputation. Setting up a Google Alerts account is an effective way of catching online defamation in its infancy, and before it has time to spread and embed itself into the inner fabrics of the Internet. Simply insert your name, and receive notifications your name is mentioned anywhere online.
Who Can I Hold Liable For Online Defamation on Internet Blog Sites?
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is a highly contentious piece of legislation which was enacted in order to shield and immunize websites and ISPs from defamation liability for the content posted by their users.
Specifically, the CDA reads:
“No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Similar to how telephone companies cannot be held liable for the defamatory and malicious things communicated and said across their telephone lines, the CDA aims to protect websites and ISPs who merely provide a platform for (and facilitate) communications and content, not post it themselves.
In determining whether a website or Internet Service Provider (ISP) should enjoy protection of the CDA, courts generally apply a three-prong test. Note that all three prongs must be satisfied in order for a website or ISP to benefit from CDA immunity:
- The defendant (the website) must be a provider or user of an ISP,
- The plaintiff must label and treat the defendant as the actual speaker or publisher of the defamatory or offensive information, &
- The information must actually be provided by another party.
Simply put, as long as a website or ISP is not actively creating content or curating it, they will not be held likely for defamatory communications and posts made on their website.
So, you might be wondering, “who can I hold liable for defamation on websites and Internet blogs?”
The individual user. However, discovering and identifying the malicious online user or poster can be a difficult and arduous task, therefore we highly recommend you contact an experienced defamation removal attorney to assist you.
Homeowners’ Associations, Internet Blogs, & Defamation
In 2013, a Florida news station – WINK News – reported a lawsuit was filed by a homeowners’ association called Fiddler’s Creek in Naples against one of its own residents. According to the court documents, the association was upset with the various remarks made on a blog by a resident, which they believed to have ultimately:
- Damaged the reputation of the community,
- Adversely affected home values, &
- Impeded the ability of the association to collect assessments.
Although it appeared several members of the community were upset that their HOA fees were being used to sue a fellow neighbor, other residents believed it a necessary action to protect the reputation, image, and integrity of the community. As reimbursement for the allegedly libelous statements made on the blog, the plaintiffs sought monetary damages and removal of the statements.
The fundamental of the case was not so much the First Amendment question of whether the resident’s comments on the blog (which was soon after removed), about how he thought the HOA was misspending funds and breaking laws, were libelous, but it was his accusations made against the organization of illegal activities. Hurling unfounded accusations and false attacks against a person or organization alleging them of engaging in illegal activities (and without proof) can have severe legal consequences.
For example, even if a party ends up receiving protection of their overall speech under the First Amendment, the very act and dissemination of such false allegations can open persons up to liability and lawsuits in other areas.
The real issue, which is why the case likely garnered such media attention, was that the homeowners’ association was essentially using the resident’s own money (the HOA fees) to fund the lawsuit. Talk about irony and “adding insult to injury.” You can’t make this stuff up.
Defamation Law Fact: One area of insurance coverage that most people overlook when considering defamation insurance is their homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies, as both typically cover legal fees and damages for lawsuits involving “bodily damage” and”personal injury.” Some of the most common damages associated with defamation are: depression, anxiety, and mental anguish – all constituting “bodily damage.”
So, what’s the takeaway from the situation?
While a lawsuit can be (and is often) an effective tool to remove defamatory statements from the Internet and recover monetary damages, it’s important to consider how such statements and actions will be perceived by third-parties and the general public. Keep in mind that drawing unwanted, negative media attention to a libel lawsuit can seal your fate before the case has even begun. And, drawing unwanted attention can sometimes even be worse than the actual defamatory and libelous statements in making up the action.
In the above case, confronting the resident, attempting to address his questions and concerns, responding to the postings, and sending out a cease and desist letter may have ultimately led to a better and less public result.
Just remember, in the wild world of online defamation law, there’s no “one-size fits all formula” for removing libelous and defamatory content, so it’s extremely important you consult an experienced defamation attorney to explore your legal options.
Curious about how homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies are a viable option to protect against online defamation and slander? Check out our comprehensive blog post here.
Work With the Defamation Lawyers of Minc Law to Remove Libel From Internet Blog Sites!
If you’ve been the victim of online defamation, or false attacks on Internet blog websites, it’s important you speak with an experienced online defamation removal lawyer today! Online defamation is a highly nuanced area of law, so it’s important to consult a professional before commencing a libel action in order to formulate a strategic and effective takedown gameplan.
At Minc Law, we have an early 100% online defamation removal and takedown rate, and all for a flat, reasonable fee. We’ve litigated in over 19 states and 3 countries, and have worked tirelessly with everyone from website administrators, to content managers, all the way to third-party arbitration firms in order to secure swift and permanent defamation removals.
Here’s what you can expect when working with the nationally recognized defamation lawyers of Minc Law:
- Courtesy & Respect: We understand how stressful and invasive online libel and defamation can be, so we make sure to treat all clients with the utmost courtesy and respect. After all, your goals are our goals.
- Open Communication & Dialogue: Having helped hundreds of individuals and businesses remove defamatory statements from blogs and websites, we know the importance of communication. After the commencement of your online takedown, rest assured we’ll be frequently updating you and keeping you informed about the details of your case.
- We Get Results: At Minc Law, we get results. We’ve secured hundreds of defamation takedowns in our tenure and know the ins and outs of defamation law. That’s right, businesses and websites respond to us.