Ahh, if only this were true. The only real truth about the Internet is that anybody can say just about anything they want and get away with it, and they can be almost impossible to stop. Unless you can prove deliberate wrongdoing and malice, chances are that nobody will do anything, even if someone is telling outright lies about you. It’s all in HOW they say it.
People who have been affected by online slander and lies can tell you from experience that the statistics for winning court battles over online defamation and libel are grim at best. In fact, according to various legal sources, most such cases don’t even make it to court, due to all of the variables involved. What this boils down to is that even if someone tells outright lies about you online, your chances of reaching any kind of a resolution through legal channels is very small.
Case Study in Trashing
Consider this case study of a real situation that’s causing any number of people untold amounts of grief. Some people move into an area – Let’s call them Family X — and don’t get along with the family that lives across the road – Family A — so they have some squabbles. This goes on for a bit, and somewhere along the line Family X decides to get nasty, or delusional, and begins to whine and complain that EVERYBODY is against them and have banded together to try to steal their land, led by Family A.
Family X decides to put up a website and defame anybody and everybody as being part of some plot to steal their land out from under them. They include the sheriff’s department, the county planning commission, the phone company, the power company, their Internet service provider, plus a bunch of their neighbors. They list all of these people by name, and include personal information about them on the website. They document real events with a paranoid twist that makes everyone seem guilty.
Since what they are posting as facts are essentially nothing more than conjecture, lies, and outright nutty claims, you might expect that these people could easily be stopped, but not so. Because they phrase things using the term “we believe . . . it’s collusion” (or illegal search or whatever), nobody will stop them. Their website hosting service says they have the right to post what they want and won’t take the site down without a court order.
So they are hurting people and committing libel, but in the state where they live this is hard to prove. They are simply “expressing an opinion.” So they have damaged the reputation of several local companies, the pharmacist in a nearby town, neighbors, and others, and as of this posting they continue to get away with it.
It’s frustrating for the people named on this site to see the lies and accusations that get posted every day, but legally everyone’s hands are tied. This is one way that innocent reputations can get damaged, and such a situation can be hard to recover from, especially with such active and vicious posters as these.
The solution to a problem such as this is to engage a great online reputation management company and start moving this website down in the rankings until they effectively disappear. This can help to protect the reputation of innocent victims of Family X’s wild claims and keep them from building a big following. People are less likely to stumble over the kooky website and reputations are protected from further damage. It can happen to anyone – all it takes is a single unhappy customer or vindictive employee out to destroy someone. Don’t let it happen to you!
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