A plaintiff bringing a defamation claim may collect actual damages, including loss of job, loss of reputation and humiliation or mental anguish, if he can prove these losses resulted from the defamatory statement. Recovery may be money damages or a court order demanding a retraction of the statement. Rules vary from state to state.
If a claim is defamation per se, listed above, actual damages are assumed and need not be proven for the plaintiff to be compensated.
A plaintiff may be awarded “special damages”—specific monetary losses—if he or she can prove that these losses resulted from the defamatory statements.
A defendant may be able to lower the damages awarded to a plaintiff if he or she can prove that the plaintiff had a poor reputation before the alleged defamatory statements were made.
Finally, a private individual claiming defamation need only prove that the false statement was made negligently and that he or she was harmed by it in order to collect damages. By contrast, a public figure must prove actual malice, that is, the statements were made with knowledge of their falsity or with reckless disregard for their falsity.
Slander Per Se- The tort of defamation that refers to a false statement concerning a person or business that damages that person’s or business’s reputation. The statement can be made in 2 ways:
written (known as libel) or spoken (known as slander) form.
Slander Per Se (or Defamation per se) is the legal doctrine that there are certain statements which are so inherently defamatory and libelous, that damage to a plaintiff’s reputation will be presumed and they will not need to prove damages.
What Constitutes Slander Per Se?
4 types of statements:
Most States in the U.S. and their defamation laws outline four types of statements which would be considered Slander Per Se:
Crime: Statements charging the plaintiff with having committed a crime or a crime of moral turpitude.
Loathsome Disease: Statements imputing the plaintiff suffers from a loathsome disease (typically, STDs & leprosy).
Chastity: Statements imputing the plaintiff is unchaste and has engaged in sexual misconduct.
Profession: Statements imputing the plaintiff has acted improperly or committed misconduct in regards to their trade, occupation, profession, or business.
In these circumstances a statement will always be considered defamatory and will be assumed to harm a person’s reputation without the need to provide proof of harm.
Libel or Slander?
Libel or Slander? Which One is It When You Are Defamed On the Internet?
The age old question that most people seem to mix up. Which one is it when someone posts false and defamatory material about you or your business on the Internet? Libel or slander?
We’ll get to all of that in the body of this post, but first, let’s tackle the social construct and context of online defamation.
Online defamation has the potential to cause significant damage to not only a person’s reputation, but to their:
Mental health, and
In the last few decades, defamation has evolved from a construct limited by community and inefficient channels of communication, such as a newspaper, magazine, or telephone, to now a tangible reality at the fingertips of anyone with a computer, smartphone, or PC.
Now, instead of affecting injured parties at a small-town or geographically limited level, online defamation knows no boundaries and can follow a person across the world – permeating language, class, and country.
Suppressing the Bad Links
There are plenty of ways to bury bad links, all of which are very manageable and very effective:
Start a company blog and post excellent content regularly.
Optimize content you already have on the web, like pages on your company site.
Create quality content and link it to and from a variety of authoritative websites that are topically relevant to web pages you're promoting
Set up social media profiles and make sure you're active on all of them (leverage bad reviews to show proper customer care).
Publish and promote other types of media like videos, images, and podcasts.
Leave useful or positive comments on other influential websites within your industry.
Become a thought leader by publishing expert advice in professional forums.
Suppressing negative content is much like traditional SEO, because the new content you create should be optimized to outrank the negative results. The more types of content you create, and the better the quality is, the more likely it will be to rank above the negative content and thus make it less visible.
How to Get Rid of Search Results You Don't Like
As a business owner, there's nothing worse than discovering your business has a bad search result associated with it. You work hard to ensure your customers are satisfied with your products and service. You work even harder to make your business a success. Unfortunately, they're common in business transaction and interactions. We're in the age of information, and people are eager to share their opinions online. Sometimes, these opinions are not positive.
Fortunately, there are a handful of techniques and strategies, used primarily by companies in the online reputation management industry, to make negative content vanish. Similar to SEO (search engine optimization), which uses strategies to make your business more noticeable, Reverse SEO uses a variety of techniques to make a particular site less noticeable. This is the backbone of how ORM (online reputation management) experts mitigate the impact of negative content about your brand. Essentially, there are two ways of doing this: removal and suppression.
Removing Negative Content Completely
If you notice a bad review, defamatory remarks, or other negative content showing up at the top of search results when you search for your name, your first instinct might be to try and have it removed. Removing a link from the internet permanently disassociates it with your name, and it makes sure consumers never see it again. It's effective, but it's hard to do. Links to negative content will be content you control or content that someone else controls. Obviously, removing content on a page you own is much easier than one you don't.
Removing Web Pages You Own
In some cases, your Facebook or Yelp page may return negative results. Perhaps it's a bad review or a negative comment. You can try updating your business profile information to be more positive and interesting. Alternatively, you can respond to comments in a professional and helpful way. If the situation is dire, you can even remove your profile altogether and create a new one. Keep in mind, some websites will keep the reviews public, even if your profile is removed.
How to Remove Content from Web Pages You Don't Control
More often than not, a negative search result will happen on a page you don't own. A blogger might publish a post about a bad experience with your company, or somebody may post negative personal information about you on a website. When you don't own the site, removing negative content from Search Results is much more difficult and for those that are not familiar with SEO or internet marketing, it can often require professional help.
While it's not easy, however, in many cases removal of negative content from a third-party website can be done without any assistance. There are several ways to do this:
Contact the website owner and ask them directly. For example, you can ask a blogger to remove their post. If you can explain why they should remove it, they may reconsider their stance on your company.
Contact Google to remove sites that violate their policies.
For example, publishing sensitive financial or personal information is against Google policies. Anything that can be used to commit fraud is not allowed. Offensive images or videos are also a violation. If you notice negative content that violates any of these policies, contact Google and ask for it to be removed. Bear in mind, the page will still exist, it just won't appear in Google results anymore.
Finally, there are cases where negative content may be unlawful, in which case you can take legal action. For example, online defamation, discrimination, copyright infringement, and other illegal content can be removed. This is risky territory, however. It could end up costing you thousands in legal fees and could even draw more attention to the negativity you were trying to remove in the first place. Consider the weight and the risks of taking legal action before you do so. You can find out more about removing unlawful content from search results here.
Suppress (or Bury) the Negative Content with Reverse SEO
Your other option for minimizing the reputation damage of negative content is with search engine suppression, also referred to as Reverse SEO. This is akin to fighting fire with fire. Instead of trying to remove content, you simply create more in an effort to bury the negative content in the search results. In most cases, suppression via Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - i.e. Reverse SEO - is not only effective at removing negative content from the first few pages of search results, but it also works to strengthen your online branding and/or promote your business in a positive light.
Most consumers will only visit the first few links returned in search results. As you create SEO-focused content, your page rises to the top of the search ranks, while other pages move down. If you can get the negative content pushed to the third or fourth page, it's likely that consumers won't even see it.
Defamation is now on a global scale.
All thanks to the Internet and World Wide Web, online defamation and its meteoric rise has come upon us at an alarming rate. Whereas, we used to have to deliberately sit down to hand-write a note or compose an email, now, such period of cooling off is long gone. And today, most people are electronically plugged in wherever they are, whether it be the subway, library, or even the middle of the countryside.
A moment of anger and jealousy can have devastating effects – delegating the role of judge, jury, and executioner to one person. Additionally, the proliferation of consumer advocacy and review sites provides a newfound incentive for posters to maliciously attack and defame businesses in order to obtain free or discounted products and services.
As you can see from our site, defamation has spread so wide, and embedded itself in the deepest fabrics of society, that we have made a profession out of combatting the humiliation and embarrassment brought on by it.
Now, let’s get into more technical definitions of what constitutes defamation of character, its elements, and common defenses used by defendants. We will also explore persons who are high risk of becoming a victim of online libel and defamation.
If you’ve been the victim of online libel or defamation, time is of the essence. Online defamation is like a wildfire, and should be put out before it has time to spread and cement itself into Google and Internet search results.
Reach out to the libel removal lawyers of Webcide.com today to schedule an initial, free, no-obligation consultation.
We’re here to protect your reputation.
Slander vs. Libel
Slander vs. Libel
Libel and slander are both types of defamation, which is defined as a false statement published to a third-party damaging a person’s reputation. Libel and slander possess the same elements, but come in different form. Let’s first tackle the overarching definition of defamation of character, which requires the following four elements be proved by the plaintiff in order to succeed in their claim.
The factual statement or assertion was untrue,
The false statement was made by the defendant was unprivileged,
The defendant made the statement with at least negligence, and in some cases actual malice, and
The false factual statement caused harm to the targeted individual’s standing or reputation leading to damages or other harm. Or, the statement was so inherently defamatory, that the plaintiff need not prove damages – also known as defamation per se.
Let’s break defamation down even further, which can be classified into both slander and libel.
Slander is a false spoken statement damaging another person’s reputation, while libel is a false written statement damaging another’s reputation. The general public usually mixes up the two, and considers anything that is defamatory to be slander, when in fact, online defamation should be correctly named ‘online libel’ – due to it appearing in written form. Think about the various forms of communication on the Internet; blog posts, emails, webpages, forum postings, and other textual forms – these would all be considered online libel.
For reference, the party making a libelous or slanderous statement is often referred to as a:
Famacide (a lesser known term).
Factual statements are statements that can be proven or disproven.
Libel Removal Tip: Defamation insurance is a powerful tool if you are a party at high-risk of defamation and libel claims. Defamation insurance covers libel and should be procured if you are a freelancer, journalist, or independent contractor who engages in high-profile work.
Note that when proving the third element of defamation, depending on whether a plaintiff is a private or public figure, they will have different burdens in proving the intent the defendant acted with.
Private individual: Private individuals have not availed themselves to a public life, therefore when defamatory statements are made about them and published online, it is an extreme invasion of their privacy. Therefore, private individuals are only required to prove the defendant acted negligently when making or publishing the statement. Private individuals should not have to jump through countless hoops to bring a claim after being defamed online.
Public official: Public officials have taken the risk that acting as a public figure, they will be discussed about – in furtherance of politics, social policy, and the overall public’s right to stay informed. When bringing a claim for defamation, the standard is a bit tougher for public officials, and they are required to prove the defendant acted with actual malice, or reckless disregard.
An important note when dealing with online defamation – it can take many forms. Even video and audio recordings on the Internet (two forms of defamation becoming increasingly popular), remarks made in a podcast, Youtube, or other recordings can all be considered defamation – and most correctly defined as libel.
Keep in mind that no matter the medium it is conveyed in online, as long as it is a published false statement or accusation, it will amount to defamation – libel or slander.
Ohio Defamation Law Fact: In Ohio, defamation defendants may retract prior defamatory statements prior to litigation, however, such retraction will not bar any plaintiff action. It may however mitigate a plaintiff’s possible damages.
If you’ve found your name or reputation libeled online, it’s imperative you act swifty. Contact an experienced defamation removal attorney in order to secure a permanent takedown.