NOTE: this is not a post on how to get negative posts removed. For advice on what to do to address these, please visit 5 things to do to tackle negative reviews online
This post provides advice on how to deal with online comments and posts that are defamatory – untrue statements that are made as a matter of fact that do damage to the reputation of a business or its owner. I wrote a post about online defamation last year, but as more and more of my clients ask for help with the problem I wanted to provide a quick guide to how you can get the posts taken down without resorting to legal action.
First, you must satisfy the following criteria:
- The comments must be defamatory – they must be stated as facts, rather than as an opinion and be something that can do damage to the reputation of either your business or your personally.
- You must also be able to prove that the statement is false, rather than simply something that you feel is unfair [the burden of proof in defamation cases is on the defamed to prove it is false]
- The evidence needs to be such that it would stand up to the evidential standards – and prove the statement to be false beyond reasonable doubt.
- The statement has been published [the legal definition of publication in defamation cases is two people]
On the basis that you have fulfilled these criteria, then the quickest and most effective way to have defamatory statements removed from a website or forum is to present the publisher with an affidavit that the statement is defamatory on the grounds it us untrue, and asking them to remove the offending posts or comments. It’s likely that they’ll remove the posts but, if they don’t, it’s worth reminding them that, while it may not be worth you pursuing the original poster, that repeating a defamatory statement [which is, as publishers, what they are doing] is not a defence in law, and you reserve the right to take action against them to have the content removed and recover damages.
If, at this point they still refuse to take down the defamatory content then it might be time to contact a lawyer to explore your legal options.
For advice on how to deal with negative or defamatory statements online contact firstname.lastname@example.org