Dealing with Defamation Online

Nancy Lambert

While it is great to focus on the positive aspects of online marketing, sadly sometimes it is necessary to deal with negative things. When defamatory content about a business is posted by an unhappy former customer, a rival or somebody with a personal grudge, the owner will often be worried about reputational damage. What can be done about content such as this and how should it be approached to avoid making the situation worse?

Litigation may seem like the obvious answer, but unfortunately not every business can afford this course of action. In some cases a lawyer’s letter will be enough to scare off a troublemaker, but there is always a risk that this will backfire and will lead to more aggressive defamation. This a judgment call that is easier to make with some knowledge of the personality of the libeler. Fortunately there are other things that can be done to resolve or to minimize the problem.

First of all, it is worth checking Alexa to see just how wide the reach of the offending site is. If hardly anybody reads it, it might not be worth worrying about. A short rant on somebody’s personal blog is not likely to do much to dent a well-organized social media marketing strategy.

Similarly, while a single tweet may reach a wider readership, if it has not been retweeted much then it is likely to be quickly forgotten. It is only really worth taking action over tweets if they form a sustained campaign or kick off a Twitter storm. When it comes to Facebook, the situation varies. The number of followers a page or individual has should be balanced against the frequency of posts made, and hence how quickly the problem post will disappear. There is nothing much to be lost from reporting a problem post to Facebook, but it may take some weeks to disappear.

Recent reports have revealed that Bing – and therefore Yahoo – has begun to ignore some content removal requests even when they are made by the courts. Google, which lost a major battle over this in the Australian courts last year, is more likely to comply. In the absence of help from the search engines, it is worth contacting the ISP behind the offending site, especially if it violates its policy; the ISP may be willing to remove it for you.

For further advice on this and all aspects of social media marketing, the experts at Xcellimark are the people to go to. They can help to turn a business’s online reputation around. To learn more about Xcellimark, call us at (888) 318-3950 ext.211.

Topics: Social Media