What is Online Defamation and How Does It Hurt?

The internet is an expansive open forum and is thought of by some as the truest pinnacle of free speech that exists. This is fantastic in many ways, but detrimental in others. When anyone can say anything about anyone, we get into trouble. The truth isn’t rigid when it comes to the internet, and people will take advantage of that fact to boost their own personal gains.

When someone posts something about you or your company that’s insulting, derogatory, inflammatory, or simply untrue, a line has been crossed and you’re looking not just at an annoyance, but online defamation. Let’s review what online defamation is, why it’s a problem, and what you can do about it.

So, What is Online Defamation and How Does It Hurt?

Defamation is a catch-all term for statements meant to damage someone’s reputation. This could be slander, libel, or other types of defamation. Online defamation is simply defamation committed in the online realm.

For defamation to be considered a legal matter, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Published: The defamation is written, spoken, or posted
  • False: Statement or statements must be untrue
  • Injurious: There must be real harm to your name or company, and you must be able to prove it
  • Unprivileged: Statements made must be permissible to use in a court of law

How Does Defamation Hurt?

Both your name and/or your business can be hurt through online defamation. False negative reviews may keep potential customers from reaching out to you, and false and malicious statements could hinder your ability to lead a normal life or operate your business normally. When someone says bad things about you in a public arena, it will hurt.

What You Can Do About Online Defamation

There are proactive and reactive approaches to online defamation. Proactive would be using a defamation defense or online reputation firm to monitor your online presence for your best interests and to watch out for any defamation to nip it in the bud. You can monitor your reputation yourself but you won’t be able to do it with the same ability that a reputation management firm can. A reactive approach will be utilizing the same type of service to repair any false reputation attacks and restore a positive image.

Online defamation is never a good thing and could drastically affect your business. Watch your online presence and consider hiring a defamation defense team or online reputation management service to be certain your reputation always looks good.

Author: Melissa Popp
Melissa Popp is Director of Digital Engagement for Altitude Agency, a boutique agency helping small businesses win with content online. As a digital strategist with a passion for technology and travel, she coaches her partners to connect with their audience through experience optimization, with the goal of retaining more loyal visitors, creating brand ambassadors, and increasing conversion goals. She can be found online writing for TripSavvy, TechNorms, and The Emmys. Past clients include Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, and Samsung.