5 Common Misconceptions About Online Defamation

I stumbled across a great video on YouTube by John W. Dozier, Jr. about common misconceptions lawyers have regarding online defamation.

1. “Bumping” a post – Old math says that you should respond to defamatory remarks in order to refute them. But, responding to such posts, or “bumping,” only makes the defamatory remarks more significant in search engine indexes.

2. Traditional PR Approach – PR professionals will tell you that you should respond to a defamatory remark once forcefully and immediately. Then, they would tell you to then attempt to “replace” the remarks subsequently with positive information. This doesn’t work in the online world.

3. Opinions are not actionable – This is a common mistake. People believe that only factual assertions are actionable defamation. But opinions in certain circumstances can give rise to a claim for defamation.

4. Can’t Prove Damages – The trend is to look to a “Market Share Damages Approach” in order to calculate the damage of a particular defamatory statement in instances where there are several sources of defamation.

5. “Gripe Sites” are absolutely protected – The newest misconception and proof that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The Communications Decency Act was Congress’ attempt to ensure that the Internet remained a marketplace of ideas by legislating broad protection for interactive computer services, AKA, websites. But courts are now limiting such protection by in cases where the “Gripe Site” has a financial component (as most sites do, advertising, e.g.), or encourage or assist a user in defaming another.

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