Social networking, blogs, online forums... the multitude of methods to interact online is overwhelming, and a large amount of content is published every day. The internet allows users to post anonymously, and this has resulted in people posting defamatory content about others without fear of being penalized.
|Online Defamation. Source|
Defamation can be compensated for by personal injury or tort laws. The system is not perfect, but here is what you should know if you are being defamed online:
What Are the
Difficulties With Proving Defamation Online?
Conventional definitions are hard to apply to the online world. For example, it is not yet clear which country's laws should govern the comments posted by a user online that is residing in a different country?
Further, while some comments are obviously defamatory and understandable by the general public, others are in context and only people who know the involved parties may be able to understand them. This creates ambiguity in what can be prosecuted and what cannot be. Perhaps the greatest difficulty is in tracing the comments or posts back to the person accused. However, on Facebook and other social networking sites, this is relatively simple.
Who is Liable for the Damage Done to Me?
Most ISPs are partially responsible for the content on their servers, and may be legally bound to provide IP address details of the offender, and when the post was added. This allows the post to be traced. Usually the person who has posted the material is responsible for compensating, and not any third party.
How Do I File a Claim That Will Win?
If you can prove that the comments were definitely added by the accused, and the statement was fabricated to cause damage, you have a good chance of winning a defamation claim. Consult a personal injury lawyer to help you file a claim. While the laws are not clear, more and more cases are popping up every day. Your lawyer will know the most recent developments, and offer your professional advice.
What If I Can't Fulfill the Legal Requirements?
If you cannot file a strong claim, or there is a gap in the evidence, a basic know how of the internet will help you flood the search results with positive information and drown out the slander. Consult an online reputation company to do this for you.
A Final Word About Safety Online
The online world is no longer unregulated. Be careful what you say online. When more countries have finalized their online laws, you may find yourself being held accountable for a post in the past. Posts can be traced back to you, so your online presence should be regulated by the same moral and ethical grounds as your offline life.
France Robert is a Spokane personal injury lawyer who deals with defamation lawsuits. She loves to write for law blogs, and has remained a consultant for the Fannin Litigation Group, P.S.