Florida defamation lawyer, Matt Weidner, handles all kinds of defamation suits in the St. Pete area. One of the most frequently asked questions that he tackles from clients is: “what are my options when I’m being defamed online?”
Florida Defamation Lawyer Explains Your Options When Being Defamed Online
Being defamed in any way can be devastating to you personally and professionally, but being defamed online can leave you feeling helpless. At Weidner Law, we don’t believe that you should have to feel that way.
Yes, it’s difficult to tackle online defamation with so many protections in place for freedom of speech and with so many ways to get around being identified as the defamer, but it’s not impossible. That’s where a Florida defamation attorney like Matt Weidner can help.
Why Does Online Defamation Seem So Overwhelming?
Being defamed online can feel more than overwhelming simply because of the nature of online posting.
Understanding the First Amendment Protections
One of the biggest reasons that people feel so trapped by online defamation is that they are under the impression that anything that is said online is protected by the freedom of speech, this is simply not true. While everyone is afforded the protection of free speech, it’s important to understand what freedom of speech does NOT protect. Among those types of speech, NOT protected by the first amendment are libelous or slanderous statements.
So, while someone does have the freedom to post a statement under the first amendment, they are not free to do so if that statement is false and caused injury to someone else’s reputation. (We have discussed this in more depth in our post defining defamation.)
Online Protections of Anonymity
Another reason why people feel particularly trapped by online defamation is that there are so many ways to hide your identity when posting online. This often causes people to feel discouraged in their pursuit of a defamation case even before they begin because they feel that there is no way that someone can peel back those layers of anonymous protection. This is also simply not true.
While there are methods of hiding your identity online, very often the individuals defaming someone online don’t have the knowledge to completely cover their tracks. This means that there are ways to discover who made a defamatory statement against you even when they posted that statement as an anonymous poster.
A Florida Defamation Attorney Can Help!
If you live in the St Petes area in Florida and have been the target of online defamation, a Florida defamation attorney can help you. With knowledge of the law as well as the power to demand information under the law by taking the appropriate legal action, a defamation attorney can get their hands on the information that you need to make your case of defamation.
For example, an experienced defamation lawyer will have a full grasp of the first amendment and what it protects as well as what it doesn’t protect. In most instances, simply explaining your case to your attorney will help them to identify why a statement made against you is defamatory and using that information, they can begin legal proceedings in your defamation case.
Your Defamation Attorney Can Subpoena the Information You Need to Make Your Case
In the case of a defamatory statement that is made online under the protection of anonymous services, your attorney can still step in and help to make your case. The first thing that they can do is to subpoena the website where the defamatory statement was made for the user information of the person who made that statement.
You may wonder how that could help if the statement was made anonymously, but through a subpoena, your attorney may be able to obtain the IP information of the individual who posted that statement. While many times people register fake email or user accounts to make defamatory statements, they seldom think to hide their IP address when they do it.
So, your defamation attorney can subpoena the website for that IP information and then issue a second subpoena to the internet service provider of that IP address to obtain the contact information of the person it is assigned to! From here, you will have the name and address of the individual who defamed you and you and your attorney can pursue a defamation case in court.
Is Fighting Online Defamation Worth It?
Often when someone has experienced online defamation and they realize that they need the assistance of an attorney to get the defamatory statement removed, and what that removal process entails, they can become discouraged again. Often the target of a defamatory statement will ask whether the pursuit of a defamation case in the courts of law is worth it. The answer, in the majority of cases, is yes.
Why is it worth so much “trouble” to get a defamatory statement removed from the online community?
Firstly, because your attorney is going to do the legwork for you. You won’t have to spend time tracking down information, following up with people, or filing paperwork because that is what you are paying your attorney for.
Secondly, because any defamatory statement made about you or your business has the potential to destroy your reputation or the reputation of your business. That means that your livelihood is at risk. So, yes, it is worth fighting to have defamatory statements removed from the online community because, without removal, they will remain online for anyone to access.
In Need of a Florida Defamation Lawyer?
If you’re in the St. Pete Florida area and in need of a defamation lawyer to help you to get online defamation of you or your business removed from an online website or forum, Weidner Law can help. Just pick up the phone and give us a call today at 727-954-8752 and we will set you up with a consultation to discuss your case!