What does defamation mean and why can it be harmful?
Maintaining a good name
Whether you use social media just for personal reasons, or you have a business that needs to establish a solid online reputation, you need to be careful if you want to avoid defaming someone else or becoming a victim of social media defamation yourself.
To avoid defamation, you first must understand what it is. Although there is no precise legal definition of the term, within Australian law, it’s taken to mean any communication or publication that has the potential harm someone’s public image or reputation. It doesn’t matter if the content is spoken, written, posted or tweeted – if it can harm a person’s reputation, then it’s considered defamatory.
How to destroy someone’s online reputation
Let’s say someone posted criticisms about the way their treatment was handled by their local dentist. While they are within their rights to communicate their misgivings and complain about the service they received, if the comments they post indicate that there was serious malpractice involved, they are potentially libellous, meaning the dentist could take them to court.
Social media influencers
With the rise of social media influencers, whose business is solely reliant on their social media profile, having a trustworthy company such as The Red Sea Agency protecting the integrity of your online business is becoming increasingly important. If Instagram is your business, you will need a reputable online reputation management service that will take care of all your public relations needs.
The non-legal route
In the eventuality that someone has posted libellous comments on the internet about you, you can consider taking them to court. Although this is a lengthy and expensive route. Here are some other actions you can take prior to pursuing the legal route, which may remedy the situation:
- Proactive steps – Respond to the criticism professionally and politely, giving your side of the story in a positive manner and stop the situation from getting out of hand.
- Give and Take – Offer an apology if you feel it’s deserved and see if you can negotiate to get the negative comments removed from the site.
- SEO Surge – Embrace social media positively and create as much upbeat content as you can, ensuring that anyone searching for you or your business will be inundated with optimistic stories and comments.
Famous for Defamation
The problem with social media defamation is that comments and posts are made so quickly, we sometimes forget to scrutinise what we’re writing. Unfortunately, not taking due care over your public comments can mean you inadvertently damage someone else’s reputation. Bearing in mind that simply sharing another’s defamatory post can leave you in hot water, let’s look at the best way to keep on top of our social media activity and avoid accidental defamation:
- Pause for thought – It can be easy to simply rattle off a post without giving it due care and attention. To avoid this, get into the habit of rereading your comments before your post them. Especially if you’re writing something about a competitor or employee.
- Sharing isn’t always caring – If you share a post that is defamatory, you can be implicated in its content. By sharing, you indicate that you agree with the post and that can mean you’re guilty by association.
- Creative criticism – If you have received negative comments on a social media site, don’t simple retaliate angrily. Rather, sit down and compose a positive and professional response to the criticisms and take the wind out of their sails.
If you’re in a situation where you feel you have been a victim of social media defamation or where someone else is accusing you of defaming their character on Twitter or Facebook, contact The Red Sea Agency to get some professional help and advice. Online reputation management companies like The Red Sea Agency, can offer advice on how to deal with negative comments and create a maintenance routine that will keep your online reputation shining brightly.