What are Your Legal Remedies When Someone Defames You on Facebook?
- posted: Oct. 15, 2021
- Intellectual Property
Facebook, a social media platform that its founders said would unite the world, unfortunately provides a forum for spreading misinformation and smearing reputations. If you believe you have been defamed on Facebook, there are things you can do to fight back.
A statement about a person or entity is defamatory if it is false, is communicated to a third party and causes injury. Defamation can be in the form of slander (spoken words) or libel (written communication). Both are possible on Facebook.
It is generally not possible to hold Facebook itself liable for defamatory posts by users. The Communications Decency Act gives Facebook and other social media platforms immunity from liability for users’ statements online. However, there are some narrow exceptions. For example, Facebook could be sued if it promises to remove content and then fails to do so.
In most cases, you must focus on the Facebook user who posted the material. The first thing you should do is take screenshots of the offending material and copy the URL of the Facebook user’s profile page,, saving this as evidence in case you need it in the future. Then, use Facebook’s tools to report the defamatory material. Facebook will review the material to see if it violates their Community Guidelines. If Facebook deletes the content, then you should consider that a victory. If, however, Facebook decides the content does not violate its terms, then you may wish to pursue legal options.
Legal action may not be productive in the case of an isolated incident of defamation but can be effective if the libel or slander is ongoing. Making a claim of online defamation can be complex. It requires a litigation attorney with technical savvy to identify the defamer and to get the content removed. A lawyer can do two things to help you combat defamation on Facebook:
- Send a demand letter to the posting Facebook user, explaining the problems with the content and requesting removal. This letter, also known as a takedown request, can warn the user that you intend to file a lawsuit if they refuse to do so.
- File a lawsuit. To prevail, you must prove that the content was false and that you have suffered actual injury, which can be difficult. A lawsuit is a big commitment financially and you’ll want to discuss the likelihood of success with your lawyer before going ahead.
The legal team at Hemmer DeFrank Wessels PLLC understands how to handle online defamation issues. If you believe you have been the victim of slander or libel on Facebook, we are ready to help you. Call our Fort Mitchell office at [ln::phone] or contact us online to schedule a consultation.