In today's digital world, it is easier than ever to share thoughts and ideas with the general public. It is also easier to defame people and businesses, often under the veil of online anonymity. Attorney Mark Clark discusses strategies to protect your reputation against internet libel, slander, and defamation.
Announcer: Welcome to Defamation Law Radio. Internet defamation is as easy to perpetuate as a blog post or forum comment. Your online reputation is measured by the website’s return as Google search results. Do you know what people are saying in writing about you? This program is brought to you by Traverse Defamation Law. Internet libel lawyers with frontline experience handling Internet Defamation cases for clients like you. Contact Traverse Legal today and find out how to protect your online reputation.
Damien Allen: Good morning and welcome to Defamation Law Radio. My name is Damien Allen, and joining us on the phone today is Mark Clark of Traverse Legal, PLC. Goood morning, Mark and welcome to the program.
Damien Allen: What exactly constitutes defamation, Mark?
Mark Clark: Well, a defamatory statement is a statement of fact that is both false and defamatory and what that means is it’s not only inaccurate factually, but that it has a tendency to harm your reputation. In other words, it’s negative. Someone can make a false statement about you on the internet that’s not defamatory if the material doesn’t tend to cause harm in some way. Now, there is also material that is considered defamation per se, and that means defamation in and of its self. And that is, if somebody falsely accuses you of criminal conduct or infidelity or unchased behavior, for instance, that is automatically considered to be defamatory. There’s also derogatory information that’s not necessarily defamatory but that we can sometimes deal with by way of letter to an internet service provider or website that holds the material.
DamienAllen: Now besides these threat letters to get them to take this down, what are some other strategies that can be used in order to halt this action being taken?
Damien Allen: How often are people successful in getting the defamatory comments pulled off the internet?
Mark Clark: Well, more often than you think, Damien. Pulling defamatory content off the internet is not always easy, but personally, I’ve had great success in sending well-crafted threat letters to the internet service providers or websites and comparing what is being posted oftentimes with their own website policies and have been successful in obtaining the removal of the offending content. So, it’s not simply expensive litigation that achieves results. Oftentimes, it’s only a threat letter. And rather than deal with the threat of litigation, oftentimes sites will simply remove the content rather than deal with a continuing legal issue.
Damien Allen: What are some things people can do to help protect their reputation online, Mark?
Mark Clark: Well, there’s not a lot you can do to prevent somebody from posting defamation or derogatory material about you online so it’s very difficult to guard against. But, if you are a celebrity, for instance, or you’re the owner of a larger business, you can take some steps to do some searches to determine what content is out there because oftentimes people just simply don’t know. So, if you are an agent or a manager of a business or an individual, you’re going to want to do periodic searches in order to determine whether your client or business is being harmed. So, the thing to do in terms of vigilance is to do the searches. Be vigilant and attack those where they are coming up high on your search engine results and the only way to deal with online defamation, initially, is typically a threat letter. So, before you decide to sue for defamation, I would recommend that an agent or manger of any business contact an attorney specializing in online defamation law to find out all of the options that may be available in a particular situation and make sure that the material comes down because if you do not take steps to remove harmful or defamatory material online, it will cause uncalculable harm both to your business reputation and your personal reputation, as applicable.
Damien Allen: Well, thank you for joining us today Mark and explaining how we can defend our online reputations.
Mark Clark: Damien, it’s always a pleasure and I look forward to our next visit.
Damien Allen: You’ve been listening to Defamation Law Radio. My name is Damien Allen. Everybody have a great afternoon.