Removing Negative and Defamatory Content from a Site
As social media and innovative digital channels have come into existence, people have had to deal with issues like negative comments and even online defamation. While there aren’t official statistics in the US, online defamation grew 23 percent in the UK in a single year as a result of digital communication.
Online defamation law makes it possible to get sued over comments published on your website or social media profiles. At the same time, many website owners are hesitant about content removal because such interventions do affect the freedom of expression.
If you have a website or any other type of online presence, you will have to deal with negative or defamatory comments sooner or later. Here’s how to handle the task in the best possible way.
Online Defamation Laws
While defamation regulations are pretty much straightforward, cyber defamation is more difficult to address. The manner in which online comments are handled will depend upon your location, the location of the commenter, and whether their identity can be pinpointed.
Things become even more interesting when you add the Communications Decency Act to the mix. The act exempts website hosts and ISPs from most defamation cases. Thus, website owners and bloggers will be the ones who will typically be forced to deal with the situation.
Content Removal to Deal with Defamation: How to Do It Properly
Defamation online can be widespread because of the sense of anonymity people get in their digital communication.
As a website owner, you have the right to deal with negative, racist, sexist, or otherwise unacceptable or illegal comments. To give visitors a good idea about what’s permissible and what’s not, you should have a well-drafted terms and conditions page http://sareenlegal.com/website-terms-conditions/
Even if the website provides visitors with an opportunity to write comments, blog posts, or share any other type of content, such activities should be controlled via a set of rules aimed at ensuring quality and reducing the risk of online defamation.
The Communications Decency Act does offer a range of protective provisions to website owners. Still, you may experience problems as a result of:
- Intellectual property claims whenever something published on your website is copyrighted
- Specific encouragement of the publication of defamatory or illegal content (in this instance, CDA protections will not apply)
- Creating content that is illegal or defamatory
- Committing a violation pertaining to state or federal criminal law (especially when a comment or a piece of content relates to either the exploitation of children or obscenity)
Authors are not protected from liability under CDA. This is especially true when the identity of the author can be verified. In such instances, it would be best to communicate with the respective person and ask them to remove the defamatory information voluntarily.
If it’s not possible to get in touch with the author or they refuse to take down the content, a website admin should go ahead to remove the respective text, image or video. This is completely permissible if the website’s terms and conditions outline the procedure and the situations in which it’s going to be enforced.
When you fail to do the right thing, you may face more serious consequences. It’s possible for a person affected by defamation to obtain a court order for the removal of a particular URL from online searches. As a result, you may lose traffic and experience problems with website development. To avoid such complicated legal scenarios, it would be best to address online defamation on your own.