Removing defamation from the internet
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Alternatives to litigation in defamation cases
When facing defamation on the internet, companies might consider various ways to respond, all of which could result in removing the defamation from the internet or in the exact opposite.
Online defamation is inevitably a sensitive, triggering and emotional issue for all those involved. Whether you consider the point of view of the person defaming the organisation or the company which is being victimised, there often is a lot at stake for both, with each party feeling aggrieved by the other. There is often only one truth. The problem is that not everyone is able to see it as such. In the meantime, matters could escalate, and the reality is that time might not always be on everybody’s side. In many cases, the longer the defamation exists on the internet, the longer it takes to have it removed and the greater the suffering is for the company that is being defamed. At the same time, if the defamed company can hold on, the financial pressure on the individual who posted the defamatory material is likely to increase.
Litigation, as a method of removing defamation from the internet can be expensive and being forced to account for the losses of the business as a result of defamatory posts that you might have posted, could have huge financial consequences for the defamer. Whilst the victim company might be able to finance a full litigation process, and even win at the end of it, an online defamation case, which is being litigated, might have financial side effects, particularly from a PR perspective, with the real possibility that those side effects could easily turn into chronic pain. Saying this, companies that are being defamed online, have an ongoing interest to send a clear message to shareholders and to others that it is not willing to tolerate ongoing campaigns of defamation and that it will always respond, appropriately, in attempts to ruin the reputation of the company and its employees. Sitting back and doing nothing might, therefore, not always be a viable option for victims of defamation.
Negotiation might be a sensible way forwards in some cases of online defamation and an effective way for removing defamation from the internet. This is particularly true in cases where either the defaming person appears to have nothing to lose by litigation or where there are other reasons why it might be in the interest of the defamed company to negotiate. In some cases, the defamatory posts might appear to the victim company to be coming from the devil himself. Ruthless, unknown, and a masked individual with a dark side to him who is willing to do what it takes, and the rest, to bring the company down.
Companies might find sometimes that they have no choice but to instruct lawyers to negotiate on their behalf the removal of defamatory posts where others have given up before even trying. Negotiations for removal of defamation from the internet might need to take place in the dark, in the faceless, in the nameless and in the shameless shady alleys of the internet. Even the lawyers have to tread very carefully, and use every bit of experience they have to help you through. A lawyer will use their senses, gut feeling and deep knowledge of the virtual world to help a client with their defamation problem.
The internet is a soft spot for nearly every business in the UK. Some people read defamatory reviews and then develop an objection to doing business with the company. Outstanding salespeople are those who manage to overcome every single objection that their prospects put to them which means they have to find ways to handle negative online reviews and even defamation on the internet. With the right strategy it is possible to turn weakness into strength and significantly improve the image of a company, even during the time where it is facing significant reputational crisis due to online defamatory posts. Successful businesses and individuals know this secret already.
Sometimes, if a rock is too hard to crack you might as well put your hands down and just walk around it. Before considering taking a litigation route and removing defamation from the internet by force, you should always try and find a way to turn the bad publicity into good PR. Although this proposition might sound a little unconvincing, keep an open mind when you speak to your defamation lawyer to see what alternatives there might be instead of directing you to resolution by mediation.
How to respond to defamation on the internet? Fast. As soon as you discover that someone is defaming you or your business on the internet, it is important to act promptly. First, gather as much evidence including Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, identities and contact details and save the evidence in a PDF format whilst you can and before the information disappears. You will want to take the defamatory information down before Google or other search engines put it into their search results. It might take Bing, for example, a few weeks or even months to index defamatory webpages.
But once it has done so, it will also take again weeks or months for the system to remove the pages, which means you must operate within windows of opportunity. Once a defamatory website or blog post have been indexed by search engines, people searching for the business may find search results showing snippets of defamatory comments -even if the postings by that time have already been taken down. The snippets on search results can stay for a while and will require further action to be removed. If you discover that someone is defaming you or your business on the internet, respond swiftly. Gather as much evidence as possible. Move quickly to obtain advice on removal before the search engines start to link to the page in search results. Some search engines take a few months before they index new web pages and start matching them to search words.
It is difficult to identify the right legal expert to handle online defamation. Online defamation has so many aspects to it and you must make sure that your lawyer looks a thins from an all round perspective. Successful handling of online defamation might require sending letters out, handling search engine results and keeping up with the PR side of things. Depending how large or small your organisation is, it might make sense to have a team of experts in their field, working together to solve the matter quickly and cost effectively.
You should call us and we will be able to help with all aspects of your online defamation case. We have no particular bias towards any practical solution, whether taking a legal route, negotiating or placing more emphasis on PR. We will share with you our most up-to-date, proven experience gained from developing and testing a verity of solutions to internet defamation issues and together with you and your in-house team, we will carefully arrive at the most effective solution to your organisation.