Facebook Defamation, Slander, And Libel


Every week, we get calls from people and businesses that are being attacked on Facebook.  The attacks can range all the way from just unpleasant opinions being posted all the way up to facebook threats and stalking.  Anytime you have a website where people can interact in such large numbers, it will always create a number of problems.

facebook slanderAny online attack against you or your company can be absolutely traumatic however, before you do anything crazy, let’s review a few common things first to see what might be your best course of action.  Sometimes on a Facebook defamation problem, you can do things that make your problems 10X worse.

Before doing anything, ask yourself the following questions:

Is it Defamation Of Character Or A Threat On Facebook?

Defamation of character is the communication of false information stated as a fact which brings harm to an individual or an entity, such as a business, group or government. For it to be defamation, the statement must be delivered in speech or in writing to at least one person other than the victim.  Obviously if it is on Facebook, then it will be written in nature and will meet the criterion.

If it is a physical threat, then that is entirely different.

Is it obvious to the WORLD who the Facebook attacker is?
Most of the calls we receive know who is attacking them on Facebook BUT cannot prove it because the person used a screen name that is not obvious to all.  Even though you may know exactly who is doing this, legal or other action cannot be taken unless that FACT can be proven.  This is a role that we play as a cyber investigator to track down a prove who is doing the attack.

Is it Freedom of Speech or is it Facebook Libel?
Please stop and read this very carefully.  Almost everything we see on Facebook paints the person or business in a very bad light but does not qualify as libel.  Yes the person may have made inaccurate statements.  Yes, the person maybe accusing you of not pleasant things.  Yes, this could be hurting your business.  But is it something that you can take legal action on?  Maybe.  Here our some rough guidelines of when the poster crosses the line but of course, this is usually up to a jury to decide:

* A communication that imputes a serious crime involving moral turpitude or a felony
* A communication that exposes a plaintiff to hatred
* A communication that reflects negatively on the plaintiff’s character, morality, or integrity
* A communication that impairs the plaintiff’s financial well-being
* A communication that suggests that the plaintiff suffers from a physical or mental defect that would cause others to
refrain from associating with the plaintiff

What, REALISTICALLY, Do You Want To Do About It?
“I want to sue, I want it taken down, I want it to stop,….” are usually some of the response we get when we ask a Facebook attack victim what they want to have happen.

However, each of these has some serious consequences for YOU.  Let’s dive in and see what is really happening here.

** You Want To Sue For Defamation:   Assuming that you have a case because of the nature of the Facebook information, then if you want to sue the attacker, you are typically looking at a combination of both Cyber investigative work being performed as well as legal work.  Totally, this can cost you in the 10′s of thousands of dollars (15K+) so you have to be very clear about why you are doing that and what you hope to gain.  More than likely, you not be able to get a lawyer to take on a case like this on a contingency basis.

** You Want To Stop Attack:    This can happen in one of two ways usually.  First, and always your first choice, is to try and find a way to work it out with the person who is attacking.  Sometimes for businesses, it is cheaper to offer the attacker something of value to remove the info and stop that it is to go through other means.  If this approach is not an option, then your second path is to formally ID the attacker with our Cyber investigation techniques and then take one of a few tactics at that point.  While not nearly as expensive as litigation, this will still cost in the low 1’000s of dollars to implement.

** You Want To ID The Attacker:  We frequently get requested to do this type of work so that the person or company can absolutely no who they are dealing with.  Sometimes, this information get’s used to get employers involved when the attacks are occurring on the job.  Again, this activity costs in the low 1’000s of dollars so it should be used only when the situation is serious enough to warrant.

Hopefully this helps you better understand how to deal with your current Facebook libel issue.  If we can assist you, please give us a call.