Internet Defamation FAQs
Damaging false assertions can spread quickly on the Internet. It is possible to have the defamatory statements removed from the Google search results if you take action timely. At Hutcherson Law, we are committed to acting quickly to stop the ongoing damage caused by Internet defamation, and we appreciate the urgency required by your business. Here are the most common questions about Internet defamation.
What is internet defamation?
- Defamation is a false assertion of fact that is either written or spoken to a third party, which harms a person’s or business’s reputation. More specifically, Internet defamation involves false statements about a person or a business, “published” to others through a webpage, and reputational damage. Internet defamation occurs in many forms including online reviews, social media websites, and blogs.
What are the elements of a defamation claim?
- Defamation is a state law claim, and so the formal elements of the claim vary by state. However, generally, there are seven elements:
- The publication to a third party,
- An assertion of fact,
- That is of or concerning the plaintiff,
- That is false,
- That is defamatory,
- That was made either negligently or with actual malice, and
- That caused damage to your reputation or business.
How can I learn the identity of an anonymous defamer?
- It is possible to identify anonymous authors who defamed you online. At Hutcherson Law, we analyze contextual evidence, issue subpoenas to websites and Internet service providers, and use forensic linguistic experts.
How do I remove defamatory webpages?
- It is possible to remove defamatory webpages from search engines as opposed to just pushing the negative statements further down on search engines. One of the most commonly used legal approaches to remove false information on webpages is through a court order. First, Hutcherson Law will obtain a court order declaring the specific content is defamatory. Next, Hutcherson Law will send the court order to the host website or the Internet search engine. These websites are typically not required to remove the defamatory content, but many will. Google, as a matter of policy, will remove webpages found by a court of law to be defamatory from its search index. That way, the defamatory webpage does not appear as a search result for any search.
What type of court order is necessary?
- We typically seek what are called “injunctions”, which are orders from a court that mandate the defendant (typically the author of the defamatory post) to take action to remove the defamatory content from the Internet.
How do I obtain a court order?
- You first have to file a lawsuit. Typically, the court order needed to remove defamatory content comes at the end of the case if and when you prevail on your claim.
What are some common defenses for online defamation?
- Common defenses for online defamation include:
- The statement is true,
- The statement is not an assertion of fact but rather an opinion,
- The statement is not defamatory, and
- The defendant did not make the statement.
How should I accumulate evidence for internet defamation?
- Print out the webpages with the defamatory postings and keep any evidence of harm, including proof of lost sales. If the case progresses, this evidence may prove invaluable.
Are opinions considered defamatory?
- Typically no, but opinions that imply false assertions of fact can be actionable as defamation. A person cannot couch a defamatory statement as an opinion to escape liability. The statement, “In my opinion, Jones is a thief”, may imply – Jones stole something, and is therefore defamation.