In this comprehensive blog post and guide, we’re going to walk you through how to remove yourself from Private-Complaints.com, several fundamental features of Private-Complaints.com which poses a serious threat to your personal and professional reputation, and some alternative methods of online defamation and libel removal.
- To remove yourself from Private-Complaints.com, we recommend first checking over their TOS and reaching out to them directly via their ‘Contact Us’ page, sending a cease and desist letter (in specific cases), file a DMCA takedown for copyright infringement, or working with an experienced defamation attorney to secure a court ordered removal and injunction. Injured persons and victims may also try suppressing negative and defamatory content in the search results through the utilization of good SEO techniques and content creation.
- You likely will not be able to hold Private-Complaints.com liable for online defamation and libel, unless a narrow exception to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is met. However, you may hold the individual poster of the libelous and malicious content liable for online defamation and libel.
- Private-Complaints.com poses a serious threat to you and your business’s reputation because of its lacklustre registration process, unverified content and posts, and non-existent TOS (due to a broken link).
Online Defamation Removal Fact: It’s extremely important to correctly identify the defamation/statement in question, as it may affect your legal rights and remedies. Specifically, libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation) may carry differing statutes of limitations for the time an injured party may bring their claim, so don’t risk being barred from bringing your claim altogether because you incorrectly identified the defamatory statement in question.
If you’ve been the victim of false and libelous posts on Private-Complaints.com or other scam/review websites and forums, contact the online defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law ASAP! At Minc Law, we’ve removed over 25,000 pieces of libelous and defamatory online content, litigated in over 22 states and 3 countries, and boast a nearly 100% online defamation takedown and removal rate – rest assured, you’re in good hands. And, we do it all for a flat, reasonable fee.
In our tenure as experienced online defamation removal lawyers, we’ve worked tirelessly with website administrators, content managers, and third-party arbitration firms to secure swift and effective libel removals. Let’s put an end to the online abuse and attacks today!
Table of Contents
- The Facts: What is Private-Complaints.com?
- 3 Features Which Make Private-Complaints.com a Threat to Your Reputation
- Can I Hold Private-Complaints.com Liable For False Posts & Defamation?
- How to Remove Yourself From Private-Complaints.com
- Work With Defamation Lawyers to Remove Yourself From Private-Complaints.com Today!
The Facts: What is Private-Complaints.com?
Private-Complaints.com is a website for users to post about common scams, complaints, and reviews of local businesses and products. Specifically, it covers reviews and complaints about nearly everything under the sun, including posts about airlines, consumer electronics, online scams, and restaurants and bars (to name a few).
While Private-Complaints.com likely started with transparent and good intentions in mind, it has unfortunately evolved into a platform for unverified and false posts (online defamation). Due to acknowledgment of its protections under a controversial piece of Internet legislation (The Communications Decency Act), Private-Complaints has become a hub for libelous and meritless accusations and content.
Keep in mind that responding to complaints directly on Private-Complaints.com and other scam/review websites can actually open up a disastrous can of worms, where the review then becomes legitimized and garners more attention than it normally would – so, we recommend proceeding with caution and reaching out to an experienced defamation removal attorney.
Now, let’s turn to three reasons why Private-Complaints.com poses a serious threat to your personal and professional reputation.
U.S. Defamation Law Fact: United States defamation law provides different burdens of proof a plaintiff must meet in order to succeed in their libel or slander action depending on their status in the community. For example, U.S. defamation law requires public persons and plaintiffs to prove a defendant acted with actual malice or reckless disregard, while private persons and plaintiffs must only prove a defendant published/communicated a statement with ordinary negligence.
3 Features Which Make Private-Complaints.com a Threat to Your Reputation
Generally, with user-generated content platforms and websites like Private-Complaints.com, there’s more than just one ‘Achilles’ Heel’ which avails them to a higher likelihood of online defamation and false posts. In the case of Private-Complaints.com, there’s no shortage of reasons as to why it poses a serious threat to your personal and professional reputation.
In this section, we’re going to walk you through three fundamental features which are lacking and ultimately a danger to you and your livelihood.
Minimal User Registration
Private-Complaints ‘Complaint Form’ is minimal at best, requiring users to only produce details of the complaint, the company or product in questions name, and the category which it falls under. Most user-generated content platforms and websites take a very hands off approach when it comes to user registration and content, as they are not legally in the hot seat should something go wrong (we’ll address this below).
And, to join Private-Complaints.com, users are merely prompted to provide their email address and password, something which can be easily skirted with a throwaway email. While Private-Complaints.com does offer users the option to log-in via their Facebook account, the likelihood of an aggrieved or malicious party tying their actual name to their account is very low.
Unfortunately, anonymous registration and users give rise to our next point – unverified posts and content.
Unverified Posts & Content
If a user knows very well that the chances of legal recourse and repercussion are nearly non-existent, there’s a good chance they may fabricate the truth or use a platform/website to push their own malicious and libelous agenda.
Furthermore, most user-generated content platforms and websites do not actually verify or vet content posted, as they are protected under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (addressed in Section 3). Unless a website or platform materially alters, edits, or creates the content which is being published, then they likely will not be held liable for the content posted. This opens up the doors for rampant online defamation and false accusations.
Websites that want to ensure a safe and pleasant atmosphere for the truth (and transparency) should have some sort of formal vetting and verification process in place, to make sure libel and other defamation does not slip the cracks. Websites which fail to have such safeguards and protections in place, should be approached with caution and skepticism!
Broken Terms & Conditions Link
Creating a bit of a lawless atmosphere for Private-Complaints.com is the fact that the link for their ‘Terms and Conditions’ page doesn’t work. While this might be temporary, it still leaves much to be desired for how users should conduct themselves when accessing Private-Complaints.com. Without a tangible and reachable TOS in place, users are free to run wild, knowing very well that there are no governing guidelines or rules.
Unfortunately, even if the TOS page were to work, most scam reporting and consumer advocacy forums/bulletin boards boast inadequate guidelines and protections, as they are well aware of their near-blanket immunity under Section 230 of the CDA (as addressed below).
Defamation Removal Fact: If you’ve been the victim of online defamation or false attacks on Private-Complains.com (or a similar website), we strongly recommend you document everything. In order to secure a defamation removal, you’ll likely need to produce evidence of the defamatory content in question, so screenshotting it is highly recommended. We also recommend timestamping everything and having a trusted family member or friend take supporting screenshots (to help refute claims of evidence tampering).
Can I Hold Private-Complaints.com Liable For False Posts & Defamation?
Simply put, no. In this post we’re going to walk you through who you can hold liable for false posts and defamation on Private-Complaints.com and who you likely cannot!
Unfortunately, websites and forums for persons to maliciously and falsely attack innocent persons and businesses are growing. And, there’s one piece of legislation which is enabling it – Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides near-blanket immunity for user-generated content websites and ISPs, including review and scam reporting websites. Specifically, websites or UGCs cannot be held liable for content posted by third-parties, and generally have no duty to verify or remove it.
Think of UGC websites and ISPs in a similar way to that of telephone companies. Just as telephone companies are not held liable for the criminal acts and conspiracies committed across their telephone lines, UGC websites and ISPs are generally not liable for the libelous and defamatory content that is published on their platform. Simply put, unless a website or website’s editor creates or materially alters the content in question, then they are off the hook.
So, who can you sue for libelous and false posts on Private-Complaints.com and other complaints/review websites?
The individual user.
Unfortunately, this is not always the easiest of paths to take, as most UGC websites and scam reporting websites have lacklustre registration processes – enabling a thriving community of anonymous online posters.
While there is no singular law guiding the uncovering of anonymous online defendants, U.S. courts generally look to the famous New Jersey case of Dendrite Int’l, Inc. v. Doe No. 3, which requires:
- A defamation plaintiff first undertake efforts to put the anonymous poster(s) on notice that they are the subject of a subpoena or application for their identity’s disclosure.
- The identification of the exact statements which give rise to an actionable cause for defamation and libel.
- A prima facie showing that the complaint being filed can survive a motion to dismiss, and evidence backing up each element of the claim.
- The plaintiff must show the right to disclosure outweighs the defendant’s First Amendment right to anonymous free speech.
While this is not employed by every state court to identify an anonymous plaintiff, it is generally a good legal starting point to familiarize yourself with.
In order to identify an anonymous online poster and troll, and subsequently hold them liable for online defamation and libel, we strongly recommend you consult an experienced online defamation removal attorney! Working with an experienced defamation attorney can increase your chances of identifying anonymous posters, pursuing proper legal action, and achieving commensurate damages for compensation.
Ohio Defamation Law Fact: Ohio recognizes four (4) core types of defamation plaintiffs; private persons, public officials, public figures, and limited-purpose public figures. Private persons must prove a defendant acted with ordinary negligence in order to succeed in their defamation claim, while the other three types of plaintiffs require a showing of actual malice or reckless disregard by the defendant.
How to Remove Yourself From Private-Complaints.com
Internet defamation and false online posts can be tricky when it comes to getting them removed. Don’t worry though. In this section, we’re going to walk you through several ways one might be able to have a defamatory or libelous post about them or their business removed.
- Look to the TOS: As we noted above, Private-Complaints.com does not have a working TOS at the moment, however this is usually a good place to start when confronting online defamation and libel. Most websites include several provisions in their TOS which account for illegal, defamatory, and otherwise derogatory attacks against persons. Depending on the website or platform in question, contacting them is usually your first option when seeking to remove false posts and libel.
- Cease & Desist: Should reaching out in a cordial manner to request a post or content removal not do the trick, sending a cease and desist letter is an effective way to let the website in question know you mean business. However, we strongly recommend first looking to whether the website in question revels in the receipt of such letters, as there are numerous scam reporting and consumer advocacy websites that will actually post your cease and desist to their website – publicizing the matter even further.
- Copyright Infringement Claim: While Private-Complaints.com does not allow the posting of pictures, a good percentage of scam reporting and review websites do authorize users to post photographs and other media. The most glaring issue surrounding the allowance of such photos and media is that the anonymous or malicious poster often is not the copyright holder, giving rise to a copyright infringement claim. Copyright infringement is also an exception recognized under Section 230 of the CDA, so this may be a viable alternative to a defamation claim if there is a picture involved. Check out our past comprehensive post on filing a DMCA takedown.
- Court Order: In some instances, a websites’ stubbornness and hardline removal policies may call for a court order. For example, seeking an injunction may be a possibility in extreme cases. Note that the following will need to be proved, including: ongoing damage should the material remain online, a probability of success in your case (on the merits), unproportional suffering and harm as a result of the statement, and that it is in the public’s best interest.
- Suppressing Negative Search Results: Suppressing negative and false content in Internet search results is also an effective way to minimize one’s digital footprint and visibility. There are several ways one can push down negative and false search results in Google. First, we recommend starting a blog or website with consistently updated content. Second, open up your social media account to the public and start openly commenting on popular websites and blogs. And third, start linking between all your public profiles (doing so creates a spider web of positive and constructive content!). Should Google find you are contributing constructive and positive content to the Internet, they will likely favor this over websites which have made their name and reputation off of unsavory and libelous content.
Above are just several ways for persons or businesses who have been the victim of false and malicious online posts/content to remove themselves from Private-Complaints.com. If you’d like to explore your options further, we recommend consulting an experienced (and nationally recognized) defamation removal attorney. Doing so will not only save you time, but headache and hassle.
Libel Removal Fact: Setting up a Google Alerts account is an effective safeguard and mechanism towards combating online defamation and libel. All you need to do is enter your name and any specific keywords you’d like to watch for, and you’ll receive notifications anytime content across the Internet containing the two appears. Stop the wildfire before it spreads and stay proactive!
Work With Defamation Lawyers to Remove Yourself From Private-Complaints.com Today!
If you’ve been the victim of false and libelous posts on Private-Complaints.com (or another scam and consumer advocacy website), reach out to the defamation removal lawyers of Minc Law now!
At Minc Law, we’re here to put an end to this defamation wildfire before it spreads further. And, we know what we’re doing. In our storied tenure, we’ve secured the removal of over 25,000 pieces of libelous and false online content/websites, litigated in over 22 states and 3 countries, and support a nearly 100% online takedown rate. And, we do it all for a flat, reasonable fee.
Curious as to what you can expect when working with the Ohio-based defamation removal attorneys of Minc Law?
- Respect & Courtesy: At Minc Law, we understand how stressful and invasive online defamation can be. Just know, that you’re goals are our goals. And, we’re always on your side. We’re here to make this as painless as possible for you.
- Open Communication Channels: Some defamation removal lawyers go missing after the online defamation process has begun. Not us. We know how important it is to stay informed, so rest assured, we’re here to always keep you in the loop.
- Websites & Businesses Respond to Us: Having removed over 25,000 websites and pieces of libelous content, rest assured you’re in good hands. We know U.S. defamation law, and know who to work with to secure swift and effective removals. Both websites and businesses respond to Minc Law!