Internet Defamation Attorney
Defamation laws have existed since America’s founding. The First Amendment grants freedom of speech and press, but it also protects people from harmful untrue statements. As social media has become more popular, issues of internet defamation have come with it. If you or a loved one is a victim of internet defamation, you may be able to file criminal charges.
A criminal defense attorney will better be able to assist you in this matter. They will also help you understand what defamation is and what you need to prove you are a victim.
Internet Defamation Law in Florida
The state of Florida defines defamation as a false statement communicated through a third party that harms the reputation or financial wellbeing of a person or business. Defamation splits into two categories: libel and slander.
- Libel is a written false statement that damages the reputation of someone. Blog posts, social media comments, or untruthful reviews on a competitor’s website are examples of internet libel.
- Slander is when a false statement is spoken and damages someone’s reputation. False statements on a podcast or YouTube video are examples of internet slander.
If false written or spoken statements have damaged your reputation or business, you may be able to receive compensation for your losses.
Filing a Libel or Slander Claim in Florida
To receive compensation, a plaintiff must prove that certain thresholds occurred. The first is that someone published a false statement about them, and the comments have to be available for people to see. Screenshots of internet comments or posts are helpful when proving this. If the plaintiff is filing a slander case, downloading the video or podcast will aid them.
Second, the false statements have to be about the plaintiff. For example, a post stating the plaintiff’s name in it or a comment on the plaintiff’s Facebook wall could be evidence. If it’s unclear who the defendant is talking about, there is no case. Next, an attorney must prove the false statement was presented as a fact. This prevents people from getting sued for stating their opinion.
Third, the defendant must have made the false statement intentionally. The plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant knew what they were saying was untrue. However, if someone tricked the defendant into believing something was correct when it wasn’t, they could not be held responsible for libel.
In addition, the statement must also cause damages. The plaintiff must show evidence that the comments harmed them. Libel or slander may cause someone to lose their job or even attempt suicide.
When filing a defamation lawsuit, remember that Florida law allows a plaintiff to file a claim within two years of the comment.
What Is Considered Defamatory?
The difference between defamation and rude comments is not always clear. Defamation must be a fact, meaning it can either be proven or discredited. Opinions and name-calling, while childish and hurtful, are not defamatory.
For instance, posting opinions on a YouTube video does not count as defamation. However, falsely calling someone a rapist online is defamation. Placing words or phrases like “I think” or “he might” does not make a statement into an opinion. The information is still presented as a fact.
Is Posting Photos Online Defamation?
If the photo is of someone in a public place, then no. In public spaces, an individual does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, if someone took a photo of you in the bathroom or inside your home and posted it, then yes. You have a reasonable expectation of privacy in both locations, and the photo would be considered defamatory.
My Child Is the Victim of Defamation
Every parent and guardian will do whatever they can to protect their child. When your child comes to you about something posted online that upsets them, you must remain calm and collected. Becoming upset will only worry your child more.
Instead, you should first write a letter or email to the individual who posted the comments and ask them to take it down. Make sure to keep a copy for your records. If you send it through the mail, make it a certified envelope. If you send an email, blind carbon copy yourself. Both will allow you to ensure they received the letter.
If the comment stays up, you can reach out to the company and ask them to remove it. Big companies like Facebook or Twitter will usually remove the comment to avoid legal action. Your final option is to send a cease and desist letter. The letter essentially states if they do not take down the comment or post, you will respond with legal action. If you have an attorney write and present the message, the company will take your request more seriously.
Internet Defamation Attorney in Central Florida
If you’re a victim of internet defamation, an experienced attorney can help you collect the compensation you deserve. At The Umansky Law Firm, our lawyers are former state and local prosecutors who can help position you for a favorable court ruling.
Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule your free consultation.