My Company is Being Defamed on Social Media: What are My Legal Options
In the business world, social media and online review websites are more important than ever. According to a recent survey cited by Small Business Trends, 97 percent of consumers say that they have read online reviews, and 85 percent of consumers state that they trust these reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation from a friend.
Unfortunately, not all online review or comments are valid or fair. In some cases, bad actors post outright falsehoods about a business. This can cause serious damage to a company’s reputation. For business owners, dealing with social media-based defamation can be deeply frustrating. In this post, our top-rated West Palm Beach business law attorneys highlight the most important things that business owners need to know if they find themselves in this situation.
Five Tips for Businesses Facing Abusive Social Media Posts
- Defamation is Unlawful, But Mean Comments are Not
Defamation is illegal. If your business has been defamed on social media, and it has suffered financial damage as a result, compensation may be available. However, it should be noted that defamation is not necessarily easy to prove. You cannot sue for defamation over an opinion. Even if the opinion is aggressive and wholly ill-informed, that is protected speech. To prevail in a defamation claim, you must be able to prove that the defendant got the facts wrong.
- Major Websites are Generally Not Responsible For Third-Party Content
In defamation cases, parties are responsible for their own statements. Websites and internet service providers (ISPs) are not liable for comments made on their platforms. Companies hosting third-party content are generally immune from defamation claims under the U.S. Communications Decency Act.
- Businesses Need to Be Careful When Responding on Social Media
In most cases, the damage caused by defamation is reputational. Businesses need to be very careful when dealing with this issue. An aggressive public response to a false, even outright defamatory social media post is not always the best tactic. This type of response has the potential to backfire. Business owners should always be very careful when dealing with this issue.
- An Out-of-Court Solution May Be the Best Solution
It is advised that companies seek professional legal advice. In addition, it is often a smart strategy to look for out-of-court solutions. In some cases, businesses find that they can work with an attorney who can help them get the defendant to remove the original post. In many business defamation cases, that is the best solution, especially if quick action is taken.
- Businesses Should Be Ready to Seek Legal Guidance
If your company is facing defamation that will not stop, you need personalized legal guidance. At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Florida business law attorneys are strong advocates for our clients. If your business is being unlawfully defamed on the internet, we can help you assess your options and take the appropriate steps to protect your interests. To set up a fully private review of your business defamation claim, please contact us today. With offices in West Palm Beach, Wellington and Miami, we serve companies all over southeastern Florida.