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Are Internet Comments Defamation?
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Are Internet Comments Defamation?

The Internet has made it quite easy for anybody to post comments anonymously about a person or entity that aren’t true or negative. When someone has a public image or a business, these types of comments can cause them to experience financial harm. It is possible to bring a lawsuit against someone for a personal or business-related claim of defamation.

Defamation

In legal terms, this occurs when a communication is made that is intentionally false. This communication causes harm to the public’s perception of an individual or entity. There are two different categories of defamation. One is slander and the other is libel. Slander includes oral communication and libel involves signs, print, pictures, and writing. The communication of defamatory comments must be shared with a third person or organization. It involves more than just communicating it directly with the defamed person.

First Amendment Protection

This protection covers writing on the Internet as well as speech done anonymously. It is intended to encourage public discussions without people worrying about reprisals. Different speech is given different levels of protection under the US Constitution. Political speech has always been given the most protection. Commercial communication intended to serve economic interests has less protection. Speech intentionally defamatory is usually not considered protected by the First Amendment.

Rights

It is possible for comments to be posted on a website, forum or blog that provides no way to the identity the person who wrote them. Many people wonder if it is possible to take legal action against the owner of the online blog, website or forum and force them to provide the identity of the person posting things anonymously. This can be a challenge. It will require a court measuring the rights of a person or entity who has been defamed against the poster’s constitutional right to remain unknown.

Per Se

Should libelous or slanderous comments about a person or entity be easily considered as defamatory and not need any type of explanation, the comments could be considered defamatory per se. This means a plaintiff won’t need to prove they were damaged by the communication. This damage will be easily presumed. Should the defamatory communication not be considered per se, a plaintiff will have to prove their economic damage or monetary loss.

Opinion

A statement of opinion is not permitted to be the basis of a communication being defamatory. To be defamatory requires a communication to be demonstrably false. An opinion is not able to be proven as true or false. If someone says another person dresses poorly and has a bad attitude, that would be considered opinion. If a statement is made that someone doesn’t earn enough money to live above the poverty line, and it can be proven false, this could be considered a defamatory communication.

Defamatory Comments

One of the most effective ways to fight online defamatory communications is to know how the Internet works. Social networks are one area online that has many instances of defamatory communications on a daily basis. It’s possible for a person or entity to respond to defamatory comments on social media, a website, as well as on other areas of online communication. It is also possible to file a lawsuit.

You may want to speak with an attorney to see if it’s possible to take legal action against someone who has defamed them on the Internet. When a subpoena is given to a website owner asking for the identity of the person doing the negative posting, it will be measured against the individual’s First Amendment rights to continue being anonymous. It will be important to prove accusations against the anonymous poster are legally warranted and other attempts to identify the poster have failed. An experienced attorney will know how to analyze the facts of a case and how best to move forward with it.

If you believe you have grounds for defamation, contact Tate Law Group today by clicking here or by calling (912) 333-3915.

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