Online slander, defamation and personal and professional attacks can easily upend the reputation of an individual or business, and lead to severe emotional distress and financial losses.
Legal action is often warranted, though these cases can be complex and require substantial evidence, particularly when the libel is offered anonymously on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor or other review-based Web sites.
Liability must be established by a plaintiffs by identifying the individual or organization posting mistruths and lies about you or your business. It is important to note that according to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Internet Service Providers are not liable for what users post on certain sites, and a defamation lawsuit must be directed at an individual defendant.
A Web site, however, is the supposed “publisher: of information, and if aware of slander or libel, may be legally encouraged to remove a post.
The vast majority of online defamation and social media libel cases are settled when a Web site agrees to remove a post, stopping short of individual prosecution or settlement.
However, in cases where serious damage has occurred and financial losses can be demonstrated to a court, your defamation attorney may be able to recover a great deal of compensation.
Joe Lyon is an experienced Defamation Attorney and Invasion of Privacy Lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in social media defamation lawsuits.
Social Media Defamation Lawsuits
Defamatory allegations are not always easily removed in a prompt fashion, and may be extremely damaging to one’s personal and professional reputation. A single post on social media website, review-based website, online forum, blog, or message board can be proven to be defamation and worthy of a legal claim.
Successful online defamation cases may involve publishing an untrue statement that damages a person’s or business’ reputation. The Lyon Firm can represent plaintiffs who have been defamed and can prove the following:
- The defendant published or broadcasted an untrue statement
- The statement is completely or partially false and not based on fact
- The plaintiffs was harmed (by reputation, personally or professionally) by the untrue statement
Social Media Libel & Internet Lawsuits
To recover compensation or to settle an online defamation case, it is important to note the following:
- Preserve Damaging Postings—take screenshots and send the evidence to yourself and to the Internet Service Providers and Websites where the postings appear
- Request that ISPs and Web sites Remove the Postings—some sites will remove postings, other will not. But the initiative may be important to building a case.
- Post a Thoughtful and Accurate Rebuttal—address the untrue allegations as soon as possible in a well-mannered post. Mention legal action if the post is not removed.
- Consider Legal Action—a plaintiffs must decide if it is worth the time and effort to file a lawsuit. An Online defamation attorney may be able to assist in the decision. How damaging is the particular post or series of posts?
- File a Lawsuit—if the person posting defamatory comments is unknown, it is best to contact an experienced online defamation attorney to obtain subpoena power, and to investigate the matter thoroughly. After obtaining an IP address, you may be able to find out who owns it and locate a poster. Then you can start to name a defendant in a defamation lawsuit.
- Numerate lost customer and lost revenue—this information will determine what is right in asking for in a court judgment or settlement.
Recent Defamation Lawsuits
Posting defamatory statements, mistruths, hearsay or lies on the Internet is unethical and unlawful. Postings about individuals or businesses on social media can be emotionally and financially damaging in terms of professional reputation, and plaintiffs should consider contacting an online defamation attorney to investigate.
Can I Sue a Public Figure for Defamation?
Following a few very high-profile defamation cases involving public figures, a number of individuals are wondering if they can file similar claims. After Donald Trump was found liable for defaming author E. Jean Carroll and hit with an $83.3 million judgment, several other plaintiffs have come forward with complaints.
Carroll sued Trump, alleging that his comments tainted her reputation as a trusted source in the media, and resulted in threatening messages, emails and comments on her social media accounts.
Recent juries have doled out massive awards in defamation cases involving major public figures. For example, another jury ordered Rudy Giuliani to pay $148 million for defaming election workers. In 2022, a jury ordered Alex Jones to pay $1.5 billion to Sandy Hook families for claiming the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax.
Such judgments against celebrities and public figures are arguably the result of social media playing a larger role for both plaintiffs and defendants. In the past, public figures were much less likely or willing to make defamatory statements, but now social media may actually encourage them to do so. An inflammatory statement can go viral, and can increase an individual’s fame and grow their audience.
Trump, for example, has successfully turned his legal woes into a long-running political with hunt narrative. He is playing the victim, and one that is not only fighting for his own reputation but for the first amendment rights of his supporters. The courts, however, have so far not seen it the same way, and his actions have had very expensive consequences.
Alex Jones is a similar case, as he stood to gain a lot financially by spreading conspiracy theories, many of which he eventually admitted he never believed in, but was simply playing a role. During his defamation trial, it was said that Alex Jones added millions of followers off of the Sandy Hook lies and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in related merchandise.
And when an audience grows to such large sizes, the damages are that much larger for an individual being defamed. As a result, juries are using these huge punitive damages to dissuade future public figures from engaging in similar behavior.
What is Libel?
- Libel is the written form of defamation, and a victim’s reputation is compromised through written statements.
- Slander is oral defamation by which one damages another’s reputation with spoken statements.
In both cases, libel lawsuits must prove the statement in question is false, and that the statement caused real damage. In most situations, damages related to one’s personal or professional reputation must be numerated.
Statements worthy of taking legal action can include those regarding sexual misconduct, or those regarding financial responsibility that can affect business. However, any statement can be construed as defamatory if it is made with malice and meant to cause public harm.
The Lyon Firm is dedicated to protecting the privacy of its clients. Any form of slander, libel or defamation can result in invasion of privacy lawsuits and settlements to compensate for the loss of business or harm to character.
Can I File a Libel Lawsuit?
Successful libel lawsuits typically involve publishing an untrue statement that causes injury and damage to a person’s reputation.
The Lyon Firm can represent victims and seek compensation and punitive damages for plaintiffs—those who have been defamed and are victims of libel or slander. Generally to have a good chance of winning libel lawsuits, plaintiffs must prove the following:
- That the defendant published or broadcasted an untrue statement
- That the statement is completely or partially false
- That they were harmed (emotionally and by reputation, personally or professionally) by the statement
Posting defamatory statements, doctored photos or other materials on the Internet can be both unethical and unlawful. Posting mistruths on social media can be particularly damaging to a personal or professional reputation, and victims may be able to file defamation lawsuits and recover compensation for the harm it caused.
Because some postings are difficult to trace, it may require contacting a social media defamation attorney and experts to investigate the source of the statements. The issues can very complex because the Web sites themselves cannot be held liable for the information posted about individuals or companies.
If you are a victim of social media defamation or online defamation, The Lyon Firm may be able to trace the source of untrue statements and take legal action on a plaintiff’s behalf.