Business owners work hard to maintain their reputation, which is why it may be helpful for businesses to understand defamation. Defamation law protects the business owner from false statements about the business.
There are several elements that must be met to prove defamation. A person must have made a statement, the statement must have been published, the statement must have caused the business injury, the statement must have been false and must not fall into a protected category.
The statement can be either spoken or written. A spoken statement is slander and a written statement is libel. Slander may be considered less harmful than libel because it may not be remembered as long as the written word.
The statement must be published, meaning that a third party must have seen, read or heard the defamatory statement. The statement must have caused injury, meaning that it hurt the subject’s reputation.
Statements are only defamatory if they are false. Statements of opinion are not considered to be false. Also, privileged statements may not be defamatory.
Social media can be a useful tool for a business, however it also allows statements to be instantly published for many people to see. Online defamation is treated the same way as other forms of defamation.
Business owners may also want to be careful about how they respond to defamatory statements online, because it can bring further negative attention to the statement and to the business’s reputation.
If a business believes it has been defamed, an experienced business litigation attorney can help.