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The internet has made it easier for people to defame businesses

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | Business Litigation

Defamation used to be something that happened in private or that primarily involved those in positions of social authority. Journalists, celebrities and other high-profile individuals could share misinformation with others that could damage a professional’s reputation or drive customers away from a company.

Defamation laws make people and businesses responsible for untrue statements that negatively affect the reputations of others. People who have misused their platforms to damage the reputations of others could face litigation and financial responsibility for the impact of their words.

The rise of social media and the daily use of the internet by the average person has made it easier than ever before for unsatisfied customers or bitter former employees to defame a business and cause real damage. Companies need to watch for and react assertively to acts of digital defamation.

What constitutes online defamation?

Numerous activities that people regularly engage in online could constitute defamation. Free speech laws do not protect people from consequences when their words are untrue and cause harm to others. Exaggerating the details of a situation to make another person or business look like a villain could constitute defamation. Leaving false reviews to drive customers away from a competitor or a former employer could also constitute defamation. Video reactions to alleged customer service issues could go viral on social media and might also lead to claims of defamation if someone fabricated details.

What options do businesses have?

Online reputation management is crucial for the success of companies in many different industries. Quickly responding to negative information online, especially untrue information, is crucial for companies and skilled professionals. A post or review defaming a business could justify taking legal action. Resolving defamation issues often begins with a letter sent to the party making statements online. If they do not promptly resolve the issue or if there are economic consequences for the defamation, then taking legal action may be necessary.

Pursuing a civil lawsuit can potentially result in consequences for those who defame others online and can help mitigate the negative impact that falsified reviews or social media stories have on a professional or business. Rather than ignoring or downplaying digital defamation, it is often in the best interests of the party facing defamation to take prompt action in response to it.