Many businesses contact our Internet attorneys and inquire, “Can I remove a defamatory post about my business?” Unfortunately, there exists no simple answer. However, several approaches exist that can be implemented to attempt removal of the defamatory post from a blog, website, tweet, or other fora.
To begin with, a demand letter artfully worded by an Internet attorney to the author may facilitate removal of the defamatory content. There exist certain advantages and disadvantages relating to a demand letter that an Internet and defamation attorney can explain.
Demand Letter – Cooperation from Known Author
Where a business knows the identity of the author of a defamatory post or comment believed to constitute defamation, a letter from an attorney to the author may often secure cooperation in the removal of the defamatory post. This will often be the most expeditious and economical means to remove the libelous post. While clearly the author may not always cooperate, the author possesses the ability in many circumstances to remove the post. However, in some circumstances, a website will refuse to allow the author to remove the post.
Demand Letter – Cooperation from Unknown Author
Even where the identity of the author is unknown, a letter from an attorney sent to the author may also secure the removal of the defamatory post. However, where the author is not known, this would not be the ideal approach. Moreover, in some cases, a website may refuse to allow the author to remove the post.
Where an author fails to cooperate in response to a demand letter or where a letter would not be productive, litigation can be filed against the individual author of the post. Again, an Internet lawyer will be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of litigation against the author of the defamatory post.
Litigation – Known Author
Litigation against an individual may secure cooperation in the removal of the defamation. However, litigation has specific complications that may create difficulties in securing the quick removal of the defamatory statement.
Litigation – Unknown Author
A lawsuit may be filed against a John Doe or Jane Doe that can perhaps obtain information to identify the author of the statement.
In some cases, direct communication with the websites that host the defamatory content may enable the posts to be removed. As mentioned above, some hosts will not remove content regardless of whether an author requests the removal or not. At the same time, some responsive hosts will examine the content and make a determination on whether the content should be removed.