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How to Deal with Online Defamation?

How to Deal with Online Defamation?
Edwin Maskell

4 min

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How to Deal with Online Defamation

With the increased availability of the internet, it has become easy for a defamer to damage someone’s reputation by sharing defamatory content online. A defamer can be an internet troll, your ex-partner, or an ex-employee who does not want you to succeed in your field.

Online defamation can cause you emotional distress and financial and physical damages. That is why it is important to know how to deal with online defamation correctly.

This article talks about online defamation and the possible ways of dealing with it. Keep reading to learn the best legal and non-legal options to reduce defamation.

What is online defamation?

Online defamation is a form of defamation in which an accuser makes false claims on the internet to damage someone’s reputation. Since claims are made on the internet, it can be difficult to track and identify the accuser.

Some statements are not actionable, especially if they represent someone’s thoughts or opinions. Defamation can be of two types – spoken and written. Spoken defamation is called slander, and written defamation is called libel.

People can use a variety of social media platforms to defame someone. They can create a YouTube video, give a review on Yelp, or create a post on Facebook or Twitter.

Examples of online defamation

There are countless ways people can use to defame a person. Some ways are more common. A few examples of online defamation are listed below.

Harassment or shaming

Today, people can easily abuse, harass, stalk, or shame a person on social media. One of its examples is Justin Bieber’s claim that two Twitter users have victimized and tried to defame him. According to him, they made a false accusation that Bieber assaulted them sexually. He filed a $20 million defamation lawsuit against them.

Cybersquatting

Cybersquatting creates a fake profile or website to pretend to be someone else. Its popular example is that of Tony La Russa, who is a famous American baseball coach. Someone made a Twitter account using the name of Tony La Russa and pretending to be him by sharing certain tweets.

After finding out about those tweets, the real Tony La Russa filed a lawsuit against that Twitter user.

Reposting or retweeting harassing content

Social media is free, and many people do not think twice before reposting or retweeting someone’s post or tweet. Many people feel free to attack someone or become a part of bullying. If you share or retweet a defamatory statement, you may also be considered responsible for that defamation.

How to deal with online defamation

Below are the popular answers to how to deal with online defamation. You should be aware of them to take the right action when in a defamatory situation.

Take legal action.

One of the possible answers to how to deal with online defamation is taking legal action. You may get furious seeing that someone is accusing you of doing something that you never did but do not decide to take the matter to court based on your feelings.

Legal action demands time, money, and attention. It also does not guarantee that the false statement will not be circulated on the internet anymore. If the case gets big, it can bring unnecessary attention.

If you still decide to file a lawsuit, make sure you have enough proof. Take screenshots of the comments, posts, etc., so that you have proof even if the defamer deletes them afterward.

Do not make any public response.

Another common way to deal with online defamation is by ignoring the defaming statement. Doing so will help you avoid drawing more attention to the matter.

People usually use this approach when they face low-level online defamation that does not hold power to cause considerable damage to their reputation. Ignoring insignificant defamation makes the defamer look unreliable and a troublemaker who starts a problem himself and then accuses others.

Respond to your defamer

One way of dealing with online defamation is responding to the defamer publically on the same platform where he posted the statement. This method of dealing with online defamation is used when the defamer’s statement can really damage your name online.

Responding to the defamer will show people that you are not hiding anything. Make sure you keep your cool and reply professionally, no matter how harsh the defamatory statement is.

Get the defamatory statement deleted.

You can also try contacting the website owner or the platform owner where the defamatory statement was published and ask them to remove the content. This approach is mostly used when you have experienced financial, emotional, or physical damage due to the statement, but the court still needs to judge in your favor.

If you can prove to the website or platform owner that you have experienced loss due to this statement, they may delete it to reduce its damaging effects.

Manage your online reputation

Another popular answer to dealing with online defamation is managing your online reputation. It means you will have first to suppress the defamatory statement. For this, you will first have to analyze the condition of your current online reputation.

Then build high-quality content that speaks well of you. Publish it on different websites and platforms to promote your positive image. There are many online reputation management strategies. You should read them and figure out which suits your case the best. Implement that strategy and bring your reputation back to how it was initially.

Online defamation – Summary

If you are experiencing online defamation, you can file a lawsuit against the defamer but make sure you have enough proof to attest your claim. Besides that, you can also choose to ignore the defamatory content if it has not damaged your reputation greatly, or you can respond to the defamer professionally (if it has damaged your reputation significantly) and show people that you are not hiding anything.

Updated

November 18, 2022

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