Libel and Slander: Internet Defamation
With the advent of the internet , defamation of character is as easy to perpetuate as a blogpost.
The average person now has the ability to publish a statement, article or news item across the globe in a nano second, without an editor checking the facts. From that moment on, the statement whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, true or false, will linger in cyber space for months or even years, impossible to recover and correct, if the facts are erroneous.
Do you see the inevitable problems that must be on the rise?
As liberating as the cloak of anonymity must feel to some people, it is not a license to write negative comments about another person or a business with the intent to hurt or destroy them. People still have their basic legal rights intact on the net, and ~likewise~ the internet is not as completely anonymous as the typical person presumes.
Is internet anonymity a license for libel and hatred?
What is defamation?Here is a very basic and simple definition that does not cover all the details, privileges or acts or per se defamation
1. A false statement of fact: if written it is libel, if spoken it is slander
2. Must be made publicly or made to at least one third party- published to someone other than the one defamed
3. Made negligently -malice required if the injured party is a public official
4. That causes damages - tending to harm the reputation of the person defamed
On line slander can ruin a person's life. It is the equivalent of digital poisoning.
Have you or anyone you know been the victim/target of internet libel?
I have and I can tell you that it is like living hell.
From sibling rivalry to animosity between former spouses, the trend is toward people moving their disputes and disagreements to a World Stage- The Internet.
A man named Ben, whose story is told in Violated Online a book written by Steven Myar
Steven Myar's book Violated Online has an interesting perspective to share. To purchase the book, click on the link and it will take you to Amazon.com
"Our founding fathers could not have foreseen the global ramifications that such freedom has. Unlimited technology, spontaneous broadcast, no civil decorum and the constitution have combined to unleash a very real weapon of mass destruction on an unprepared population."
Remember the movie, Fatal Attraction? Who could forget the frightening terror that the antagonist (played by Glenn Close), after a fling with a very married, Michael Douglas, launched on her bed buddy after he rejected her and told her that their fling meant nothing to him- he loved his wife and only is wife. I bet that film scared plenty of married people whoever considered having a one night stand, seriously reconsider the idea.
Like the old saying goes, " Hell hath no furry..." Well, I have my own saying to add. "Scorn quickly escalates to rage."
My personal experience with an internet stalker on a crusade to destroy my life started with a woman who mistakenly believed I wanted an ex back in my life. She has since written a formal apology to my daughter and me for the hurt and pain she caused us by posting crazy, untrue and cruel comments about me on line. She had admitted to making the comments under the veil of anonymity, but not until after my teenage daughter stumbled across the grotesque remarks, such as I didn't love my children, I had confessed to her that I was going to kill my entire family including my children, that my children hated me and begged for strangers to take them home, that I was a prostitute who engaged in sexual activities with my clients in exchange for drugs, and many more. I just got nauseated reliving the terror of that woman and how much she made my children cry. I didn't think I would ever write about that horrific experience, but I hope that people can see how much damage we have the power to cause if we let our emotions dance with our keyboard when we are angry, hurt, or not thinking clearly.
Gone are the days of gossiping about someone in the restroom and when we come to our senses we apologize and people move on to the next topic of gossip withing a couple of days. We live in a a time where whatever we write on the internet will be with us forever. It can come back to haunt you.
This woman wrote her outlandish comments either as "anonymous" or often she took on a fictitious role of someone like a friend of the family, a swim coach, a neighbor, She pretended to be anyone from a former next door neighbor to my son's school teacher. Unbeknown to her, I was the room parent for my son's classroom at the time and the teacher was livid when I showed it to her. This woman's comments were so scary that I began to question her mental stability and I feared for the safety of my kids. I was afraid she my pose as a friend and try and take them from a sports practice or something. I was a nervous wreck, walking on eggshells.
As I said, she finally took responsibility for what she did. She admitted writing all of the mean, untrue and malicious comments about me. But not before
(1) My teenage daughter read the horrific remarks
(2) Not until after I paid a boat load of money to hire an internet defamation attorney and a "cyber detective" to track her IP addresses and other digital data he referred to as the digital fingerprint or digital D.N.A. and I had concrete proof that she was the lone commenter who left dozens of comments all designed to destroy me.
It is a sick and hopeless feeling to have someone on the prowl attacking you like this. The woman did admit in her apology letter that she finally realized that I was not then nor had I ever been a threat to her relationship (I was happily married with a family). She stated that it was her own insecurity of losing her partner that prompted her to act impulsively late at night when she was drinking, vulnerable and alone. I actually felt sorry for her- a little
Does she know the damage she caused me? My family? My business? Doubtful
Does she care? I don't know-Doubtful.
I brought this up for a few reasons.
I realize this is a super long post. I apologize. I got carried away because this a subject that still causes me a great deal of anxiety. I won't include the rest of what I have for today. I will leave you with a few tips and then when the A to Z challenge is over I will do a series of articles on this because it is important for everyone to protect their online reputation. There are ways you can arm yourself against future slam attacks. I will share all if it in my May, blog series on internet defamation and protecting your online reputation against haters, competitors, etc.
I will end with this tidbit of information:
Don't forget to check out the other entries in the A to Z blogging challenge
Click here for the bizarre story of a stalker who sues his victim for defamation of character