If someone has posted content on social media that is damaging to your character and causes reputational harm, you may be feeling vulnerable and helpless. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Reddit allow anyone to instantly post messages that can be seen by all of your friends, family, and co-workers, along with millions of strangers.
This democratization of mass communication certainly has its benefits, but it can also unfairly torment victims of online defamation, bullying, and other abuse. Someone with a personal vendetta against you may have tweeted a false story about you, written a scathing review about your business on Yelp, or posted a falsified image of you with a misleading caption on Instagram.
Once something is posted online, it can sometimes be nearly impossible to remove without the original author’s cooperation. Information on the internet tends to stick around permanently, and negative information about you can remain viewable by your friends, family, clients, and employers indefinitely if you don’t take action.
In this article, we’ll examine how a cease and desist letter may help if you’re trying to remove libelous information about you from social media. We’ll also tell you how you can have a cease and desist letter prepared and sent by an attorney on your behalf for an affordable flat rate.
What exactly is defamation?
Defamation is a false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation. Slander is the term used for defamation that is spoken, while libel is the term used for defamation that is written. A party can defend themselves from a defamation claim if they can prove the alleged defamatory statement was true.
For example, if someone tweets terrible things about your restaurant (i.e., the dishes were dirty, the employees were rude, there were bugs everywhere, etc.), and they can prove that every claim is true, that defeats the defamation claim even though their statements have been highly damaging to you.
An image that is posted on social media can also be considered defamation if the picture was altered to inflict harm to your reputation. For example, if someone posted a picture of you that was photoshopped to mislead people, that could be considered defamation.
The defamatory content has to be damaging to you and your reputation. In a lawsuit, the victim would have to show how they were damaged (for example, by demonstrating that their career or business was hurt, or that they were ostracized from a group of friends). A few states have “slander per se” rules, which means that certain statements are deemed presumptively slanderous, such as if the person claims that you are professionally incompetent, that you carry a disease, or that you committed a crime.
If someone is held to be liable for defamation in court, they could be forced to pay damages to the victim.
What to do if someone is defaming you online
The first step you should consider to address defamatory content is to reach out to the author with a friendly but firm request to have the offending material taken down. If the author posted the content without malice towards you and wasn’t aware of how it might offend you, they may be willing to remove the post. If attempts to amicably resolve the situation have failed, however, it may be time to take more formal action.
Sending a cease and desist letter is one way to resolve your situation without having to go to court. A cease and desist letter will demand that the recipient stop posting defamatory content about you. Having a legal professional send a cease and desist letter will show the other side that you mean business. If the offending party has thus far been ignoring your requests or has been combative, they may change their attitude once they see a formal cease and desist letter from a lawyer.
Upon receiving a cease and desist letter, many people will take down the offending content to avoid further escalation. Most sensible people would rather delete a post than entangle themselves in an expensive and messy legal battle. Not to mention that if they are taken to court and found liable for defamation, they could be forced to pay for damages.
If you need a legal professional to send a cease and desist letter, Demand Letters is your best option online. Demand Letters will connect you to an attorney that will draft and send a cease and desist letter on your behalf, all for an affordable flat rate.
Anyone can technically send a cease and desist letter to stop online defamation. However, sending a letter yourself is not optimal for a few reasons. First, if you have already attempted to resolve the issue on your own, it’s unlikely that yet another communication from you, however formal, will move things forward. Secondly, if this person is acting with spite and ill intention towards you, seeing a letter from you is unlikely to elicit an effective response. Lastly, sending a cease and desist through a lawyer sends the message that you’re serious about the situation and willing to take action to get your demands met.
The biggest drawback of using a lawyer is the cost. Legal fees can be excessive and unpredictable, especially on a billable hour fee structure. Fortunately, Demand Letters was created to help people just like you send cease and desist letters for a low flat rate.
What should the cease and desist letter say?
The cease and desist letter should describe the defamatory statement or images and demand that the author cease any further offensive posts. It’s also important to also demand that the author remove defamatory content that has already been posted. This is preferable to the author posting a subsequent apology or note that they are retracting the offending content. If the offending post continues to exist on the social media platform, it can continue to be seen by others and possibly through Google searches without the viewer understanding the full context of what transpired.
The letter should describe how the statements damaged your reputation, character, business, or livelihood. The letter should also indicate that if your demands aren’t met, you may pursue more serious legal action through a lawsuit.
Should you also address the social media platform itself or the ISP?
The initial instinct of some people who are fighting defamation online is to go after the site or social media platform hosting the content. You may believe that Facebook or Google should take responsibility for a post that is false and damaging to your reputation. However, that can be a very difficult route because of the way internet laws work in the U.S.
The Communications Decency Act shields website hosts, ISPs, and social media platforms from liability when it comes to what their users post online. This law allows internet companies to operate without being legally liable for what their users might say on their platform. This has arguably allowed these companies and the internet to flourish with the flow of free speech, but it also essentially gets them off the hook if someone posts something defamatory about you.
If someone is unfairly harming your reputation and character on social media, you don’t need to feel helpless – there are actions you can take. Stop defamation on social media by using Demand Letters to have an attorney draft and send a cease and desist letter that can help to resolve your situation affordably and quickly, without resorting to a costly lawsuit. Click the Get Started button below to connect with a lawyer now.