Social media is everywhere these days, and as the world becomes more interconnected, so too does the opportunity for people to share and spread malicious, defamatory, and even threatening content.
With so many people using social media sites, it’s not surprising that these sites have become a popular place for defamation to occur.
Unfortunately, defamatory content can spread like wildfire, and it can be hard to stop once it starts.
The potential for defamation on social media presents unique issues, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself and your business.
It’s important for business owners to not only be aware of defamation but also how to protect their business.
What is social media defamation?
Defamation is when someone makes false statements about another person or an organization. Defamation can take on two distinct forms. Defamation in writing is called libel, whereas defamation in speech is called slander.
Defamation can occur online and offline, but online defamation is becoming increasingly common.
Negative comments on the internet are not always libelous. According to the law, defamation occurs when a third party makes a false statement about you that causes substantial injury to your reputation.
What are the consequences of defamation?
The consequences of defamation can be severe, affecting not only your reputation but also your business.
The effects of defamation can range from damage to your business or reputation to significant financial costs.
When your reputation is damaged by defamation, it can have huge implications. It can:
- Damage your reputation and trustworthiness
- Have a negative impact on your business, especially your ability to get new clients
- Cause you to lose business
- Damage the reputation of your employees
- Damage your brand
- Deter potential clients from hiring you
- Limit your ability to get funding, and more
Social media can quickly spread defamatory statements, so it’s important to know how to deal with defamation.
What can you do to protect your business from defamation?
If social media defamation happens, it’s important to know how to respond. Here are a few tips:
The first step in responding to social media defamation is figuring out how much damage has been done. Even if someone posts a defamatory statement about you online, that doesn’t mean it’s true.
Determining damages can be tricky because the online world can make it difficult to see the whole picture.
That’s why it’s important to keep track of online conversations related to your business and to keep tabs on what people are saying about you.
Once you’ve determined how much damage has been caused, it’s time to gather evidence
There is always the chance that a defamatory comment may be altered or removed, as was noted before, thus it is crucial to take swift action.
You need to make a duplicate of the article, post, or remark that may be used as evidence, thus you should use a social media archiving tool that allows you to preserve social media content in its original form.
Take steps to remove defamatory content
Once you’ve gathered enough evidence, it’s time to take action, and the first step is to remove the defamatory content.
If the defamatory content is posted in such a way that it cannot be removed, consider reporting it.
Social media defamation doesn’t just damage your reputation, but it can also damage your business. One of the best ways to protect your business from social media defamation is to remove defamatory statements.
However, it’s also important to preserve defamatory content so you can use it as evidence in case litigation is required.
Consult a legal professional
While you may be able to defend yourself, it’s more advisable to have a lawyer review the situation.
Contact an attorney as soon as possible, because they can guide your business through legal steps, including filing a lawsuit if necessary.
A lawyer can assist you to determine whether or not your situation involves a true case of defamation, and can also outline your alternatives for moving further.
Hire a public relations professional
In addition to consulting a lawyer, it is also wise to hire a public relations professional. Public relations experts can help you respond to defamation, potentially minimizing or even eliminating damage to your reputation.
Many public relations companies specialize in preparing responses to defamatory statements.
Public relations professionals can also help you prepare a response to online comments, which can help you control the situation.
Send a cease and desist letter
If the defamation continues, the next step is typically sending a cease and desist letter. This letter typically asks the person to stop spreading defamatory statements, and if the person continues to spread defamatory statements, you can sue them.
Be sure to include in the letter that legal action will be taken if they do not stop spreading defamatory statements.
A lawyer can prepare this letter for you so that the wording is clearly stated.
File a lawsuit
Although legal action is always a last resort, if a stop and desist letter is disregarded, it may be necessary to address defamation.
Lawsuits can be expensive, but they may be necessary, especially if the person or organization posting defamatory content is unwilling to take the matter seriously.
If a lawsuit is necessary, an attorney can help you draft a defamation lawsuit and handle other legal aspects, including filing a lawsuit and representing you in court.
Try not to get involved
It’s not always easy, but doing nothing sometimes is the best option. Before making such a comment, you should calculate the potential harm it would do.
Is going to court worth the money and hassle? Is there a chance that your response may inflame things further?
Avoid the temptation to instantly jump in and offer your own angry online defense, even if you intend to take action.
Social media defamation can be devastating for a business. It can tarnish your reputation and hurt your bottom line.
If social media defamation happens, it’s important to know how to respond.
Follow these tips to protect yourself against defamation, and to avoid damaging your online reputation.