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What Can I Do if Someone Writes Something False About Me Online?

If you Google your name, you will likely see a multitude of results pop up.

While we can control what people can see on our Facebook profiles, what appears on our LinkedIn profiles, and what we say on Twitter, you unfortunately cannot control all of the information that may arise in a Google search.

For example, a mug shot from a DUI arrest years ago may still be one of the top results. If you’re a business, a highly negative Yelp review may appear before any positive reviews. All of this information can adversely affect your reputation in many ways. After all, when you apply for a job or ask someone on a date, wher do you think they’ll likely turn? Likely, Google!

While it is difficult enough to control our online reputations, it can be even more distressing if someone puts false information about you online.

We can’t control what other people write about us.

That being said, you do not have to just live with the reputational fallout from false statements online. Instead, call the Farrow Law Firm and learn about how a reputation management attorney can help you.

Your Legal Rights

You cannot always take legal action against someone, for making negative statements. If a statement is, unfortunately, true, you can enlist our help to try to get those statements removed. But the person who spread the news, will not necessarily be responsible for any adverse effects on your life and reputation. On the other hand, if someone made false statements, you may be able to take legal action to recover for your losses.

When someone makes a false statement about you or your company, it can be considered “defamation” under the law. Defamation can be verbal (known as slander) or written (known as libel). Written false statements published online may constitute libel. Not every falsehood online will be libel, however, as you must prove certain elements to pursue a claim, including:

  • The statement was false, as there are no causes of action for true statements
  • The statement was not “privileged.” An example of privileged information would be information from a court document or public records
  • The statement is not the person’s opinion. In order for a statement to constitute defamation, you must be able to prove it is inherently true or false.
  • The person published the statement for others to hear or read, such as saying it over the radio or publishing it on a website accessible to third parties. Saying a false statement in a private message or email will not constitute defamation, though a comment on a public profile page or in a group email may be actionable.
  • The statement caused real and demonstrable damage to your reputation. You will not have a claim if someone said something false that did not cause you reputational harm.
  • A reasonable person would believe the statement. If a statement is truly unbelievable, it will likely not lead to legal action.

Some statements will always be presumed “defamation per se,” and you will not need to provide any further proof that the statements hurt your reputation to prove a claim. Some examples of defamation per se include stating false criminal allegations or convictions, saying someone has a “loathsome” health condition or disease, false accusations of sexual misconduct or infidelity, or false comments regarding a person’s occupation.

In some cases, someone may publish a false statement online, and then someone else may repost the statement or the information. If the new publication of the false information will reach a new group of people, that party may also be liable for defamation in a separate cause of action.

Finally, if a person who controls a news source, website, or another medium on which someone posted false and defamatory statements, that person has the duty to remove the statements when possible.

Unfortunately, many people may refuse to remove such statements to limit the damage to your reputation. In these cases, that party may be held accountable for failing to remove the defamation from public access.

How a Reputation Management Law Firm Can Help

Both individuals and corporations can become the victims of defamation and can suffer serious harm to their reputations.

An individual can lose career prospects, political aspirations, or personal relationships due to defamation. False and defamatory statements can cause companies to lose customers and profits, which can even result in the closure of the business if the defamation is not properly addressed. If you become aware of harmful false statements online, you should not wait to consult an experienced attorney about your legal options. By pursuing a defamation lawsuit, you can seek damages for any lost income, emotional distress, or other harm you can prove you suffered due to the defamation.

Many false statements online do not rise to the legal definition of defamation since they are merely opinions. That does not mean the statement will be any less harmful, however. In this day and age, too many people believe opinions to be facts, and rely on them to make decisions. The good news is that our reputation management law firm can help in this situation, as well. We often work to get harmful statements removed from the internet to limit the harm to the reputations of our clients. We will also evaluate your situation to determine whether you can seek additional legal recourse via a defamation lawsuit.

Contact Our Skilled New York and Florida Reputation Management Attorney for Help
At Farrow Law Firm, we know how important each person and company’s reputation is to their success. We have seen firsthand the devastating effects of online information – both true or false – on our clients’ lives and livelihoods. We can review the concerning information and advise you of your options and how we may help. If you would like more information about our reputation management services, please contact us online or call us at 954-252-9818 to schedule a free consultation today.

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