Dealing with social media defamation
As quickly as social media can build people up, it can tear them down just as fast. Where platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram can all be platforms for good, equally, they can be used to post comments targeting individuals in an attempt to tarnish their reputation.
If you have been at the receiving end of such an attack, you will understand both the impact it has on your life, both on your mental health and your reputation. Unfortunately, there’s no clear formula for what your next steps should be in this instance, as it will all heavily depend on the circumstances and the context of the comments made but here’s some things you can consider to get started.
Keep a copy of the post
While nothing on social media can ever truly disappear, it will make your life much easier if you make a copy of it as soon as it’s posted, either by printing it or saving it on your computer. This means that if it is deleted you have the evidence to hand. If any revisions are made to the post, or if it is commented on, liked or shared by others, ensure to keep a record of this as well. This is called the ‘reach’ of the content and it could be significant later down the line.
Contact the original poster
If the content that has been posted has already been liked, shared and reposted, this step may be too little too late, but it’s a start.
Before you reach out, it’s worth staying calm and polite while being firm with your request. You may need this as evidence if you decide to go down the legal route later on, plus you will more likely to get the response you desire if you don’t go in instantly on the defensive. In recent findings by blog search engine Technorati, it was noted that 94% of bloggers will retract, edit, or delete incorrect information if you contact them but this will likely be different for social media posts or if you know the poster personally.
If you’re unwilling to contact the original poster as it could inflame the situation, you also have the option of reporting the content to the site that it was posted on and asking them to remove the material. However, this is often difficult to justify unless the content is obviously defamatory in nature.
Seek legal advice
Quite often social media disputes can be solved through communicating with the poster but when this isn’t the case, you might want to consider whether you have a case for legal action. If you want to go down this route, you should contact a specialist solicitor or refer to your Legal Expenses Insurance if you have this in place.
At this stage, you will need to delve deeper into whether the statement was defamatory or not, looking at factors as to whether it was presented as fact or opinion, if the statements were true and the resulting reputational damage it caused to the accuser.
If you want to know more about how Legal Expenses Insurance can help you both with advice and financially in a wide range of legal disputes, please get in touch with the team at Watkin Davies on 02920 626 226.