Before a company can bring a claim against an individual or group for libel or defamation, the company first has to determine who published the defamatory statements. Sometimes the individual uses their own name, email address, or social media account to make defamatory statements. However, these individuals often use anonymous accounts, multiple email accounts, or social media accounts of other people to try and hide their identity.
Identifying who made the defamatory posts or statements may require subpoenaing the records of an internet service provider (ISP), phone company, or social media company
Most websites and major search engines, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo! have polices in place for voluntarily removing content from webpages and search results if given a valid court order declaring the content to be defamatory. Getting a court order requires filing a lawsuit. There are many important considerations to take into account when filing. Only a licensed attorney experienced in the area of Internet defamation can properly advise as to the risks, costs, and other considerations.
If a valid court order is obtained that declares that the content is defamatory or should otherwise be removed, search engines and websites typically remove the content voluntarily. Court orders are used not only for injunctions to remove content, but also to prevent content from continuing to be reposted and to obtain monetary compensation and relief for the client.
Online internet defamation is becoming a major problem for a lot of businesses in New England and across the country. One disgruntled person can be responsible for dozens of negative reviews, defamatory comments, online threats, and libelous content. Unfortunately, much of this defamatory information can be posted anonymously, making it hard for businesses to track down the responsible person.
As a business, your online reputation can have a real impact on your bottom dollar. Unethical competitors may even use overseas individuals to create a barrage of negative and harmful content that can put your business at risk. If your company or business is facing internet defamation, you need to take aggressive action to remove the harmful material and hold those responsible for the damage caused.
It is important to note that every website and search engine has different requirements as to what constitutes a “valid” court order. Court orders must be drafted to meet the unique requirements and circumstances of each case. In many cases, content is authored or posted by individuals who are anonymous or cannot be easily identified or located. In instances such as these, getting a court order requires filing a lawsuit. Depending on the state where the lawsuit is filed, efforts must then be undertaken to uncover the identity of the anonymous author . Our experienced Internet attorneys and team of online investigative and forensic experts are highly trained in identifying and locating people, organizations, and other defamers that attempt to hide their identity.
It is important to note that if a proper court order is not obtained, websites and search engines will deny removal requests. Therefore, it is imperative to work with a law firm that has experience successfully obtaining valid court orders of this type.
Our attorneys work closely with our clients to achieve stellar results, including, but not limited to:
Removal of false and defamatory online posts, articles, discussion boards and internet content
Clean up search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc.) links and results to defamatory articles
Identifying, through a lawsuit, anonymous internet authors, when defamatory information has been posted
Litigating lawsuits seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief for online defamation
Removal of posts from cheater websites such as cheaterreport.com, haterville.com, BadboyReport.com, DatingPsychos.com, Playerblock.com, Exposingjohns.com, CheaterRegistry.com, Sheasahomewrecker.com, Hesahomewrecker.com, ReportMyEx.com, CheaterReports.com, Thedirty.com, Liarscheatersrus.com, Myex.com, DeadbeatDirectory.com, STDRegistry.org, Ihatecheaters.com and others;
Removal of posts from mugshot websites
Removal of unauthorized use of copyrighted work and content on the internet such as photographs, original drafted materials, images, logos, etc.
Online defamation claims involve the internet, which can make it difficult to even begin identifying the individual who published the statement. Additionally, seemingly defamatory statements may not be actionable if they clearly express an individual's opinion and a reasonable reader would not understand the statement as asserting a statement of fact.
A statement of verifiable fact is one that can be proven false. For example, writing on a board that someone is “dumb” or “an idiot,” generally conveys an opinion and is not understood by most readers as conveying a fact about an individual's intellectual capacity. However, writing that someone “steals client's money,” or “abuses his wife,” may be understood as conveying a provable fact that the individual engages in criminal theft or abuse.
Defamation may involve written statements or spoken defamation online. In general, slander involves spoken statements and libel is written defamation. Often, individuals use multiple platforms to make these statements, including crowd-sourcing review sites like Yelp, social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, or even video posts on YouTube.