Internet Defamation

The internet has grown from a curiosity to a necessary business tool in a very short span of time. Nearly all companies now make use of the internet to some extent, whether through email communication, online banking, or online marketing. Companies can interact online with current and prospective customers, as well as other businesses, but this comes with both benefits and drawbacks. The internet allows anyone to publish information about a business, and when that information is false and damaging to the business, the law of defamation is still catching up to internet technology. If you or your business has suffered from defamatory statements made on the internet, you should consult with a Chicago internet defamation attorney who knows the current state of internet defamation law and can act quickly to protect your rights and your interests.

Defamation

“Defamation” is any statement, written or oral, that is false, is made to anyone other than the defamed person or business, and causes damage to the defamed person or business. Spoken defamatory statements are often called “slander,” and written defamatory statements are called “libel.”

State law allows a person or business to bring a civil claim for defamation. Such a claim requires proof that the defendant made the statement to a third party, that the statement was false, that the defendant knew or should have known of its falsity, and that it caused the claimant to suffer reasonably foreseeable damages. Damages may include lost sales or other revenues, loss of value of a product or brand, or measurable damage to a company’s reputation.

Internet Defamation

In the past, a claim for written defamation, or libel, required proof that a defamatory statement was published in a newspaper or other written work. It was possible, albeit very difficult, to prove libel from a letter or other private written communication. The internet, however, allows anyone to publish information to the entire world. Defamatory information made available on the internet can “go viral” and quickly reach hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people. The same defamation laws apply to statements made on the internet, but the internet presents two unique challenges that the law is still learning to address. Our internet defamation lawyers can guide Chicago clients through these challenges.

Publicity

The internet allows fast, almost instantaneous dissemination of information, including defamatory statements. Social media services like Twitter allow people to forward information to an ever-wider audience. This poses a difficulty for a defamed person or business trying to prevent further release of a defamatory statement, as the internet allows anyone to re-post or “re-tweet” information. Internet defamation therefore requires a swift response with emergency litigation measures like a preliminary injunction.

Anonymity

The internet also allows people to disseminate information anonymously or through an alias. Web service providers generally require a subpoena before revealing identifying information about a user, and even then they may offer resistance. Privacy laws may shield internet users from disclosure of their identity in some circumstances. This can make a defamation claim difficult, and also requires quick and assertive action to protect your rights.

The Chicago internet defamation lawyers at Lubin Austermuehle, P.C. represent businesses in a wide range of legal matters in Illinois and throughout the Midwest region, including Indiana and Wisconsin. We can help you and your business navigate the still-developing field of internet defamation, pursue or defend against defamation claims, and fight for monetary damages or injunctive relief. Contact us today via email, at 833-306-4933, or locally at 630-333-0333 to schedule a confidential consultation with an internet defamation attorney in Chicago or Elmhurst, Illinois.

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