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Steps to Remove Defamatory Blog Posts

Steps to Remove Defamatory Blog Posts

Steps to Remove Defamatory Blog Posts

Online reputation management takes on many forms. When negative information is posted online about a person or business, a number of strategies can be employed. A business can respond to the criticism on review sites, like TripAdvisor or Yelp, by replying to a negative comment. One can also reply to an offending blog post. Some companies employ online reputation management companies to push down (suppress) negative content.

However, if a web posting is truly defamatory, then it can be removed, but you are going to need legal counsel. We have pulled together some basic information on defamation, culled from our experience with journalism and media law. (We are not lawyers and what we have posted is not legal advice. If you think you have been defamed, contact a lawyer right away.)

Defamation, simply put, is a catch-all term for any statement that is knowingly false and intended to hurt someone’s reputation. It is further subdivided into libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation.) Because of the infinite memory of the Internet, defamatory statements that are posted online often have a significant shelf life, which can have a long-term negative effect on the individual or business mentioned.

If you feel you need to take legal action, there are steps that can be taken to remedy the situation. Successfully trying an online defamation case can prove difficult but it can be done.

If the content you want removed is something negative about you or your business, this type of item usually cannot be removed without legal documentation supporting your claims. Under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (CDA), hosting companies and websites are under no legal obligation to remove allegedly defamatory content without a court’s determination that the content is knowingly false and harmful towards you or your business.

For example, if you have a bad experience at a restaurant you have the right to go online and write a negative review about that restaurant. Although the owner of the restaurant may not like it, you are allowed to express your opinion. However, you cannot go online and write that your waiter is a pedophile just to get back at him for dropping a plate of pasta in your lap. The bad review is not defamatory but calling the waiter a pedophile is.

In order to prove that something is defamatory four elements must be met:

  1. There is a false statement of fact.
  2. The false statement has been publicly published and at least one other person has seen it.
  3. The false statement was published with some level of fault.
  4. The false statement must have caused damage to the talked-about person’s reputation.

Providing the legal documentation stating that the content you want removed is defamatory enables websites and hosting companies to assist you. They receive thousands of defamation claims per day, but the majority of those statements are false. If served with a court order stating that the item in question is defamatory, they will take it down.

So, if you find a negative item online and it meets all four points to qualify as defamatory, you should contact an attorney who specializes in Internet defamation.  Background information courtesy of www.webfactcheck.com.



author: John P. David

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