It is increasingly important that marketers and other online professionals understand defamation laws and what constitutes defamatory language online. A posting on Yahoo.com by “HockeyMom” said Douglas Wolff was “not an orthodontist, but a dentist who maybe took one weekend course in braces.” Wolff claims that “HockeyMom” was orthodontist Bryan Brettin, and Wolff has sued him for defamation.
It is not uncommon for businesses to try to sabotage one another online. Social networks and blogs are rife with instances of online defamation. Numerous court cases have led to ISPs being forced to remove content from their servers and provide personal details including the IP address of known offenders. Even anonymous posters can be uncovered and sued for defamation.
On Thursday, a judge in South Dakota refused to throw out a defamation lawsuit against ABC related to its coverage of “pink slime,” saying that the network is not protected against liability by reporting that the beef product is safe to eat. Dakota-based Beef Products Inc. claims ABC’s coverage led to the closure of three plants and roughly 700 layoffs by misleading consumers into believing the product is unsafe.
While there are few specific online defamation acts, libel lawsuits that cite the Communications Decency Act have been successfully tried in courts around the world.
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