In today’s digital climate, social media has become an important element of everyone’s lives. Social media, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Whatsapp, can be a powerful and useful asset for businesses to take advantage of, from marketing a business’ products and services, raising awareness of the business’ brand, to connecting with prospective customers worldwide.
However, wherever there are opportunities, there are also threats. Social media can be a business’ worst nightmare if defamation of your business begin to circulate on social media. The threat of defamation spreading on social media, which was once an unprecedented topic, is now a common theme, with a huge influx in the number of defamation cases due to social media posts in recent years.
Features on social media allowing posts to be shared, re-tweeted, and liked, can ignite a negative backlash on your business from just one defamation post. These features on social media has the potential to spread defamation very quickly creating a ‘snowball’ effect in a matter of minutes. If this happens, then the topic of defamation of your business may go viral or trending, putting the defamation of your business in the limelight. This can all happen in an instance, and before you have even realised that there is defamation about your business on social media and take action, it may have already spiralled out of control.
What Is Considered As Defamation?
People often post negative statements on social media about a business or individual without a second thought, or without realising the consequences their post may incur. But not all negative statements are considered as defamation.
To establish a defamation claim, the business needs to prove that the defamation is false, that the defamation has caused, or likely to cause serious harm to the business in terms of financial loss and reputation, and that the individual or business spreading false defamation had done so with malicious intentions.
It is important to note that anyone can carelessly and accidentally post negative statements on social media with no bad intentions, and on that basis, it would not constitute grounds for a claim in defamation.
What Should You Do If You Have Found Defamation On Social Media
You should not let any defamation to sweep under the carpet, particularly if the defamation is on social media, as negative ramifications can quickly escalate against your business.
Resolving defamation on social media would depend on how the defamatory statement has impacted your business so far, the extent of the spread on social media, and whether you seek compensation for financial loss and damages.
The first instance would be to contact the individual or business as well as the social networking provider to remove the defamatory post on social media.
If this is unsuccessful then you would need to consider taking legal action. Initiating legal action involves sending a letter before action, which puts the defendant on notice to delete the defamatory post, otherwise you have no option but to pursue the defamation claim through court proceedings. A letter before action has the benefit of showing you have taken the defamatory post seriously by instructing a legal representative, and it may help bring your defamation claim to an early amicable solution without the need to go through court proceedings, which can be time consuming and costly. If the letter before action is unsuccessful in removing the defamatory post, then you would need to submit a defamation claim to commence court proceedings.
It is important to note that during a defamation claim in court proceedings, the onus is on the business to prove that the defamation post is untrue and provide evidence that the defamatory post has caused significant harm to your business in terms of financial loss and reputation.
If you are intending to bring a claim for defamation to the court, then you must do so within one year of the defamatory publication.
Are There Any Grounds For Defendants to Defend A Claim?
A defendant can defend a defamation claim on the following grounds:
- The statement made was true
- The publication of the statement was made in the public interest
- The statement complied with the Defamation Regulations 2013
- The statement was made in absolute privilege
- The statement was an honest opinion
How We Can Help?
If you have found defamation about your business on social media, you need to act quickly and take decisive action to quell any further negative impact on your business so that your losses are kept to a minimum.
Our defamation solicitors can provide tailored advice unique to your circumstances and can help:
- Claim for financial losses and damages
- Seek an injunction or undertaking to stop the republication of the defamatory statement
- Seek an apology
Any delay in taking action against defamation can make or break your business.