In this comprehensive blog post, we’re going to explain how to remove false and defamatory posts from DirtyScam.com and other scam reporting websites, the consequences online defamation may have on your personal and professional life/reputation, and several of the most common defenses to libel and slander claims.
1. To remove false and defamatory posts from DirtyScam.com, we strongly recommend you reach out to an experienced online defamation removal attorney to assist in subpoenaing the website, file a DMCA takedown notice (for unconsented to photographs), seek a court ordered removal, or opt for the “suppression method,” where one utilizes best SEO practices and content creation to push negative and false search results to the bottom.
2. Five of the most common defenses to online defamation actions include:
- Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, and
3. DirtyScam.com poses a serious threat to you and your businesses reputation because of its allowance of anonymous users, unvetted and unverified content, and strict content removal policies.
Online Defamation Removal Tip: United States defamation law distinguishes between two core types of plaintiffs for purposes of democratic advancement and open discussion. Specifically, defamation plaintiffs are either considered “public” or “private,” with each having a different burden of proof to meet in order to succeed in their claim (actual malice/reckless disregard for public and ordinary negligence for private).
If you’ve been the victim of online defamation and malicious attacks on DirtyScam.com or another scam reporting website, it’s time to act. Let’s put an end to the online abuse and accusations today. Contact the online defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law now!
At Minc Law, we know the ins and outs of Internet and United States defamation law, and have litigated in over 22 states and 3 countries, secured the removal of over 25,000 pieces of online content/websites, and boast a nearly 100% online defamation removal and takedown rate (all for a flat, reasonable fee).
Furthermore, our experienced defamation attorneys have worked tirelessly with website administrators, online content managers, and third-party arbitration firms to secure swift, permanent and guaranteed removals – so, rest assured you’re in good hands.
The Brass Tacks: What is DirtyScam.com?
DirtyScam.com is a consumer advocacy and scam reporting website for persons to report the latest and greatest scams which are taking place in business. Specifically, DirtyScam.com’s homepage reads: “Report Scammer – Warn Others,” and “Let our voice carry your rage to confront dishonest companies.” Although likely founded with noble and transparent intent in mind, DirtyScam has evolved into one of the most popular scam reporting and consumer advocacy websites out there, and as such, may pose a serious threat to your reputation – should a malicious or disgruntled customer or person so choose to defame you or your business.
Most notably, DirtyScam’s ‘About Us’ page states, “Dirty Scam aims to make consumers aware of their capabilities by giving them the platform where they can report the injustice done to them by any service provider, company or individual.” Subsequently, they follow up with, “Dirty Scam was initiated with the aim to bring into notice and highlight the prejudice done to the common people, who in spite of all the law and orders in hand, are unable to get the desired justice.” Essentially, DirtyScam.com has created a website and bulletin boards for aggrieved consumers and persons to take justice into their own hands – through the course of anonymous reviews and posts.
And, DirtyScam isn’t a small-scale operation either, it’s one of the bigger scam reporting and consumer advocacy websites in its respective ecosystem, boasting over 33,000 users per month in October 2018(according to SEMRush, a popular competitive intelligence platform for online marketing). Additionally, their website sits at the very forefront of Internet search results for numerous names as well, meaning, if you’re not proactive and careful, a false report or post about you could ultimately end up in the very first position of Google’s search results (that’s not saying the names in question were the result of libel or online defamation). They also have over 145,000 backlinks, creating for a robust and healthy online spiderweb of content and reach.
So, what happens when you have one of the largest scam reporting and consumer advocacy bulletin boards on the Internet and a slew of disgruntled users and consumers? A recipe for online defamation. Let’s take a further look.
Defamation Law Fact: Persons who commit defamation may commonly be referred to as ‘libelers’, ‘slanderers’, ‘defamers,’ and ‘famacide’. Defamation may also be called ‘traducement’, ‘character assassination’, and ‘vilification’. Note that ‘disparagement’ is actually an incorrect name, as it actually refers to damage to a business’s proprietary and financial rights, rather than damage to its reputation.
Why DirtyScam Poses a Threat to Your Reputation & Livelihood
In this section, we’re going to take a look at several fundamental reasons why DirtyScam.com and other consumer advocacy/scam reporting websites pose a serious threat to your personal reputation and livelihood.
First, let’s take a look at the effect of defamatory and libelous posts on your business or ability to earn a living.
According to a2018 BrightLocal consumer report and survey, nearly 86% of consumers utilized the Internet in order to conduct research on a business or product (an increase in nearly 2% from 2016). And, for millennials, that number is even greater, sitting around 95% for persons aged 18 to 34. Furthermore, consumers read an average of 10 online reviews before feeling comfortable with trusting a product or business. It also looks like that number is only set to rise, as roughly 80% of 18 to 34 year olds admitted to having written online reviews before, compared to just 41% of persons over 55.
So, what’s the point of these statistics? Well, even one malicious or false online post/review stands to severely affect your user base and a consumer’s choice to select your business/product.
The most popular industries searched for included:
- Restaurants and cafes,
- Hotels and bed and breakfasts,
- Medical and healthcare,
- Grocery stores, and
- Automotive services.
So, if you’re business or company falls within one of the above categories, you should especially be taking your online reputation seriously – we recommend establishing a set online reputation and brand monitoring budget and setting up a Google Alerts account. It also is not uncommon to find your business defamed on your Google My Business profile as well, so we recommend reading our article explaining how to remove Google reviews!
And if you’re having trouble deducing what this means for your business, there’s an alarming correlation between a consumer’s Internet review browsing and real life choice of who they choose. Additionally, it’s important to understand that for smaller businesses, a negative review or post could completely lead to your services being overlooked, as you might not have the luxury of having a single negative review balanced out by hundreds of other ones. Even the slightest difference in a business’s rating could have severe consequences, as Travel blog Tnooz noted the difference between a 3.74 average rating vs. 3.79 average rating on a review website could be the difference in roughly 6-8% in customer flows.
On top of decreased business, below are just several other consequences of false and libelous online posts:
- Severance of partnerships, funding, and other advertising,
- Heightened media scrutiny and publicity,
- Denial of future employment and partnership opportunities, and
- Having to close one’s doors for good.
Three Fundamental Issues With DirtyScam.com
Unverified & Unvetted Content
DirtyScam especially poses a serious threat to a person or company’s online reputation and livelihood due to its Terms and Conditions, which reads, “Dirtyscam.com does not undertake to monitor the submission of such content to, or the publication of such content on, this website.” DirtyScam.com recognizes its near blanket immunity granted under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (a landmark piece of Internet legislation protecting websites and ISPs from third-party content).
Since DirtyScam is not required to vet or verify the content posted to its website, it opens it up to potential online libel and defamation. After all, why wouldn’t someone post something libelous and false if they are angry and know that it will never be fact-checked or reviewed?
Finally, Dirty Scam enables users to post images of the alleged scammer or business in question, which then opens up the door for potential copyright infringement claims.
Strict Content Removal Policy
While DirtyScam.com’s ‘Removal’ section notes that they do not interfere with the content by users, and recommends reaching out for legal help or obtaining a legitimate court injunction (from a US court) in order to remove false and defamatory material. This is not always practical for the average person or business who is falsely accused or attacked online.
DirtyScam also seems to openly revel in potential litigation, stating, “If you wish to file a lawsuit against us, please go ahead and sue us :), please be aware that we will defend us tooth and nail.” User-generated content platforms and websites which generally comprise the corpus of scam reporting websites often make it extremely difficult for users to remove content, and claim they do so in the name of transparency and to protect consumers. Well, the margin of error here is too wide and stands to negatively affect far more persons and businesses than it does to protect.
Going hand in hand with unverified and unvetted content is the fact that DirtyScam.com allows users to sign up by providing no more than their email address. This is something that can be easily circumvented by the use of a throwaway address.
Also, it makes it extremely difficult for defamation victims and libeled parties to easily identify the person or entity in question who falsely attacked them. Reputable review websites tie a person’s identity to their account, which in turn, generates more legitimate and trustworthy reviews. By failing to hold users accountable through a legitimate registration process, users feel a sense of invincibility and are more likely to engage in libelous actions and behavior.
Online Defamation Tip: Most scam reporting websites, forums, and bulletin boards come in the form of user-created content, also known as user-generated content platforms. Such platforms have lead to an open dissemination of information (which is no longer controlled by a single entity or organization), but has also come at a cost. Specifically, UGC platforms often do not vet or verify the content which is posted, making them an attractive option for online defamers and trolls.
Most Common Defenses to Online Defamation & Libel
When confronting online defamation and libel, it’s important to understand that accused parties may rely on a plethora of defenses to skirt liability. Acquainting yourself with the relevant defenses which a party may rely on when confronted with a defamation claim could ultimately help prevent you from lodging a frivolous or meritless libel or slander claim. Furthermore, understanding the various defamation defenses in the United States could help you narrow down whether or not bringing a claim is financially worth it.
Below are just five (5) of the most commonly relied upon defenses to online defamation in the United States.
If a statement or post may not be independently verified as fact or fiction, then a defendant may rely on the defense of opinion. Simply put, opinion is a statement which cannot be proved true or false.
Beware of persons who try and cloak defamatory statements of fact in statements of opinion, as they will likely not be able to rely on the defense of opinion.
Let’s just get this out there. The truth hurts. And, just because it hurts, doesn’t mean it’s defamatory. If the statement in question that was published or communicated about you is in fact true, then a defendant will likely be able to rely on the defense of truth and skirt liability.
Furthermore, statements which are substantially true (but for several small inaccuracies and immaterial slip-ups) will also be a legitimate defense to defamation claims.
Privilege simply refers to a person’s legal right to communicate or publish a defamatory statement. Specifically, sometimes in the furtherance of democracy and policy, persons will be authorized to communicate or post a defamatory statement to a specific audience and for a specific purpose.
There are also countless privileges authorized by statute, so contact an experienced defamation attorneyto understand whether a privilege statute is applicable to your opposing party’s defense.
Section 230 of the CDA
As we noted above, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is a comprehensive piece of legislation protecting websites and ISPs from liability for content posted by third-parties.
As long as the website in question did not curate or create the content that was posted, then they will have no duty to otherwise vet or remove it (unless a limited exception applies).
A person or business can’t consent to a specific or defamatory publication about them being disseminated and later retract their consent. Once you’ve given consent, but for a few limited situations, you likely won’t be able to go back on your word.
Once you consent to a defamatory publication or communication, you’ll have to live with the consequences. So, try and refrain from granting such right to other persons and organizations.
United States Defamation Law Fact: Some of the most common damages sought in defamation actions include; presumed damages (in cases of libel or slander per se), special damages (in cases of defamation per quod, actual damages, and punitive damages (where a defendant has acted in an especially wanton or egregious manner).
How to Remove False Posts & Libel From DirtyScam.com
In order to remove false posts and libel from DirtyScam.com, there are a few options a defamed person and victim can employ. In this section, we’re going to take you through three methods to remove such posts and content from DirtyScam.com and other consumer advocacy websites.
1. State Issued Subpoena
If you’ve been defamed or libeled by an anonymous commenter, it may be difficult for legal recourse and remedy, unless you identify the anonymous person in question. Issuing a subpoena is a viable option for holding a defaming party accountable, however it is a relatively complicated and state-specific matter, so we recommend reaching out to an experienced online defamation removal attorney.
Most websites and ISPs follow the legal standard set out in the famous New Jersey case of Dendrite Intern., Inc. v. Doe, which enables plaintiffs to conduct discovery to identify an anonymous online commenter and defendant if they can prove:
- There was a previous attempt to provide notice to the anonymous defendants that their identities were being sought (along with an explanation on how to defend),
- Production of a verbatim quote of the actionable online speech,
- Identify all elements of the cause of action,
- Present relevant evidence supporting such cause of action, and
- Prove to a relevant court that the right to identify the speaker outweighs the Constitutional protections under the First Amendment.
Subpoenas are an effective way to acquire personal information about the poster in question, however they should be approached carefully and methodically.
2. Copyright Infringement & DMCA Takedown Notice
As DirtyScam.com enables users to post photographs of the scammers or businesses in question, this gives rise to the potential for a victim to file a DMCA takedown notice. A DMCA takedown notice can be filed in instances where a website or user has infringed on another’s copyright, and posted unconsented photographs or other media.
Under Section 512 of the DMCA, all that is required are the following six elements:
- Name and signature,
- The infringed work in question,
- The website,
- Contact information,
- A good faith statement that the material is infringing on a copyright, and
- A good faith statement that the information contained within the letter is accurate.
While the process of filing a DMCA takedown notice may seem simple enough, there’s countless legal issues that can arise if it is not written and organized properly, therefore we strongly recommend working with an experienced U.S. defamation attorney to increase your chances of removal.
3. Court Ordered Removal
In rare instances where website or ISP is adamant against removing online content, a user may seek a court ordered removal. Google will honor the removal of content which has been court ordered and signed by a judge. Once you’ve proceeded with a court ordered removal, just sit back and wait.
At Minc Law, we’ve executed the successful deliverance of court ordered removals for clients and received confirmation of removal within 24-hours of presentation of the order. Contact us today and let’s get started with the removal process!
There are other ways for users to petition Google to remove libelous and offensive content, but make sure you meet the requisite elements when presenting your argument.
Ohio Defamation Law Fact: Ohio’s statute of limitations for defamation claims requires plaintiffs to bring their action within one (1) year after the “cause of action” has accrued. Furthermore, Ohio’s lower courts have staunchly followed the ‘single publication rule’, a popular legal doctrine limiting a defamation plaintiff’s recovery to the first publication/matter complained of, and not subsequent publications or copies which are a result of the first publication.
Work With Experienced Online Defamation Attorneys Today!
Have you been the victim of false posts or accusations on DirtyScam.com or another scam reporting website? It’s time to put an end to the online abuse and attacks now! Contact the online defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law today to schedule your free, initial no-obligation consultation.
At Minc Law, we deliver when it comes to online defamation takedowns and removals, and have secured the effective and permanent removal of over 25,000 pieces of libelous and false content (and websites), and do it all for a flat, reasonable fee. Furthermore, we boast a nearly 100% removal rate.
Here’s what you can expect when working with the nationally recognized defamation lawyers of Minc Law:
- Respect & Courtesy: We pride ourselves on treating all of our clients with the utmost respect and courtesy. After all, we’re here to advance your best interests. Know that your goals are OUR goals.
- Open Dialogue & Communication: Some online defamation attorneys go missing once the takedown process has begun, not us. At Minc Law, we understand how important it is to be kept informed, so rest assured, we’ll keep you updated with all important details of your case/removal.
- Websites Respond to Minc Law: As mentioned above, we’ve worked tirelessly with website administrators, content managers, and third-party arbitration firms to secure swift and permanent online defamation takedowns and removals. We know who to contact and how to contact them.