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Consumer and competitor online activity can constitute defamation

Defamation against a business can do major damage to its reputation. Unfounded or exaggerated claims made by an outside party can deter prospective clients and customers from doing business with a company.

Historically, defamation largely occurred in private settings and could be difficult to track. However, the proliferation of digital technology has made it easier than ever before for one party to intentionally damage the reputation of another and for businesses to discover the source of defamation. Social media platforms and review websites have created a new and shockingly fast way for other businesses, former employees or individual consumers to defame an organization and damage its reputation.

There’s a fine line between a negative review and a defamatory statement

Defamation can sometimes be close to the truth. When someone exaggerates their experience or makes allegations they can’t prove, they may put themselves at risk of defamation claims. Evidence is often the deciding factor regarding whether someone’s claims online defame a business or simply highlight harsh truths about how the company operates.

Consumers, former employees and even other businesses can share factual information about a company even if that information might damage its reputation. An organization might be able to take legal action if the party making claims about a business online exaggerated or fabricated the information they provided to the public.

How companies can respond to digital defamation

There are multiple different solutions for defamation, including online defamation. Gathering proof of what someone posted is important, as people or businesses could delete defamatory content. Oftentimes, the response to defamation begins with documentation followed by communication with the party making the statements. Having an attorney draft a letter warning the party making statements online to cease doing so is often the first step toward resolving online defamation.

Sometimes, those who have misrepresented the situation voluntarily agree to remove defamatory content or post updates clarifying the situation. If defamatory online content has already damaged a business’s reputation or finances, then it may be necessary to request compensation from the party misrepresenting the situation.

The law in Florida does permit litigation in scenarios involving the defamation of a business. Ultimately, discussing a potentially defamatory online post with an experienced legal team can help business owners and executives decide what steps to take next in response to negative online chatter.