Internet Defamation Consequences: Everything You Need to Know

Internet Defamation Consequences

The internet has played a significant role in improving our communication, business, and depth of knowledge. However, it has also made it easier than ever to harm someone’s reputation.

It’s essential to be mindful of defamation when we share or publish criticism on an internet platform. Defamation can manifest in many ways, but its results are usually very harmful. Creating false statements is an act that can directly or indirectly harm any organization or an individual’s reputation.

Several consequences, both legal and non-legal, can result from internet defamation. Take a look at the various consequences for the victim below.


Financial Loss for an Individual or a Company

For every business owner, consumer feedback is meant to influence innovations and changes to a product or service and foster trust from prospective customers. Unfortunately, this may turn into a nightmare when all your customers’ perspective is deterred by negative reviews from consumer feedback websites, resulting in revenue loss.

Similarly, a company can take a considerable loss when defamation claims arise. Defamation claims usually result in a decline in consumer trust due to harmful content that frames the conversation of the clients and prospective partners.


Physiological and Psychological Consequences

Online defamation can result in overall stress that may negatively impact your body. Headaches, insomnia, memory loss, weakened immune system, and increased risk of heart attack are all possible physiological consequences of online defamation. Dealing with defamation can be overwhelming as it quickly leads to anxiety, agitation, nervousness, and sometimes depression.

Consequences of Internet Defamation for the Perpetrator

Defamatory information can damage one’s professional life or a company’s or person’s reputation, especially if one is a public figure, so the courts take it very seriously. Below is a list of some of the legal consequences for anyone who publishes defamatory statements.

Internet Defamation Legal Consequences

If you publicly make a false statement about a person or a business, some of the possible legal consequences you are likely to face include the following:


Civil Liability or Lawsuits

Online defamation can cause various damages to the victim. Because of this, an individual who causes harm to another person or business through false language could be subject to civil lawsuits. Defamation lawsuits affect not only public figures and businesses but also ordinary individuals as well. When a lawsuit is filed, the victim may try to recover compensation from the perpetrator.


Possible Criminal Charges

Although defamation itself is not a crime in New York and New Jersey, one can face criminal charges of cyberbullying or other violations stemming from the defamation, depending on the severity of the harm caused. Some of the consequences that result from this include fines and a jail sentence.


Reputational Consequences

Defamatory statements can have a significant negative effect on an individual’s or organization’s public image and credibility. False information about someone can lead to various adverse outcomes. Some of these consequences include the following:

  1. Impact on reputation: Defamatory comments can tarnish the image and reputation of the targeted individual, making them appear untrustworthy or incompetent.
  2. Hindrance in getting a job: Searching for the employee’s background is a must-do thing for employers. The appearance of defamatory comments during this search can affect your ability to get or sustain a job.
  3. Negative impacts on your friend circle: Internet defamation can create rifts in personal relationships. As a result of defamatory statements, you might feel that friends, family members, and colleagues might start distancing themselves.

Defamatory content can persist online for a very long time, even long after the initial incident has passed. For the target individual, it might affect the ability to rebuild their reputation.

The defamation law allows you to seek compensation for your losses. For online defamation, plaintiffs go after their internet service provider (ISP) or the website that hosts the defamatory content. However, in 1996, Congress passed the Communications Decency Act, which protects ISPs, social media platforms, and website hosts from defamation claims. If you are dealing with a defamation claim, you should consult with an Internet defamation attorney for your defamation lawsuits.

Internet Defamation Law

Defamation usually results in reputational harm. Written defamation is referred to as libel, while spoken defamation is called slander. According to defamation laws, it’s possible to sue the person who caused the defaming damages.

Defamation laws usually try to stabilize competing interests. That is the right to speech without the fear of litigation and the right to protection against defamatory statements.


What Should a Victim Prove to Establish Defamation?

There are various accepted rules according to the law of defamation. If you face defamation damages and wonder how to prove it, you can show a statement containing the following defamation claim elements: published, false, defamatory, and unprivileged. 

The Statement Must Be Published

For defamation to take place, a published statement should be present. Being published usually means that there was a third party who saw or heard the statement.

When a statement is published, it needs to be made public through social media platforms or other public platforms. However, information sent as a personal message or written in a private journal does not constitute defamation. It’s typically considered defamation when the sender is guaranteed that the third party can read it.

The Statement Should Be False

A defamatory statement should be false, as truth is a defense against defamation. A false statement is an essential ingredient for libel, as once the information is made accurate, there would be no defamation. The law never punishes an individual for speaking the truth, no matter how unpleasant it is. 

The Statement Must Be Defamatory

Defamation usually begins when one makes a defamatory statement or posts defamatory content concerning a company or individual. A defamatory statement can cause reputational damage, which is why the cause of action should always be taken.

For a statement to be considered defamatory, it should invoke negative feelings towards something. For instance, using abusive language is often defamatory, but criticizing goods is not defamation. 

The Statement Should Not Be Privileged

At the time, a situation might occur whereby the statement might be privileged. This is when the individual who made the statement is safe from such liability.

Why Is Defamation Illegal?

Numerous U.S. states have made defamation illegal. Although online defamation is not considered a crime in New York and New Jersey, victims of defamatory statements can file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator, and publishing any type of false statement remains highly frowned upon.

Posting potentially libelous statements can cost a company’s or an individual’s reputation. Most financial activities that rely on online reputation can face extreme revenue losses, business partners, and customers, hence why some states consider defamation illegal.

Internet defamation can also result in punitive damages, compensatory damages, and awards for legal fees. If you are subject to defamatory comments, you should contact an internet defamation attorney as soon as possible to ensure your defamation claim is filed within the defamation lawsuit time limit.


Is Slander on the Internet Illegal?

Slander is simply a subcategory of defamation, so slander is illegal only in states where defamation is illegal.

Slander involves spoken defamatory statements. As much as the First Amendment safeguards freedom of speech, it still permits individuals who post a false statement to be sued for defamation.

If you face defamation charges and wonder what to do, you can contact an internet attorney for legal advice and representation.


Contact an Online Defamation Lawyer if You’re Facing a Defamation Claim

Online defamation can result in very severe consequences for all involved. If you face defamation accusations or have been the target of a false statement on the internet, we invite you to contact our defamation lawyers for more information.

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