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Can You Sue for Defamation of Character on YouTube - morgan and morgan
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Can You Sue for Defamation of Character on YouTube?

Can You Sue for Defamation of Character on YouTube?

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Can You Sue for Defamation of Character on YouTube?

Nearly 20 years ago, Google purchased YouTube to form the most powerful duo of social media sites in the world. Since buying the video-centric company in 2006, Google has promoted YouTube relentlessly to make it one of the most popular social media networking platforms. From large corporations promoting products and services to savvy individuals trying to monetize a unique niche, YouTube is the place to gain exposure in cyberspace.

YouTube is also the place where defamation of character has become a huge problem.

From slanderous remarks made in a YouTube video to libelous statements found in the comment section, no other platform offers more opportunities for users to destroy the reputation of another person or an organization. The question is not does libel and slander happen on YouTube. Instead, the question is can you sue for defamation of character on YouTube.

If someone made a defamatory remark about you on YouTube, you can sue the individual who made the defamatory remark. However, you cannot sue YouTube or an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Working with one of the skilled litigators at Morgan & Morgan helps you meet the elements of proving defamation, as well as hold the other party accountable by filing a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages.

Schedule a free case evaluation to recover any financial losses you might have sustained, as well as receive injunctive relief to prevent future acts of defamation.

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  • What Is the Legal Definition of Defamation of Character?

    As a general legal concept that comes in several different forms, defamation of character represents an illegal act that damages the reputation of a person or an organization. If you are a victim of verbal defamation, the law defines that as slander. On the other hand, any type of written defamation is considered to be libel. It does not matter which of the two broad categories of defamation has ruined your reputation. You have the right to seek monetary damages and injunctive relief for both libel and slander.

    Libel is typically the easier type of defamation to prove because of the physical evidence left behind. However, YouTube changes all of that because unless someone removes a video, evidence of slander remains intact while in cyberspace. Libel can be difficult to prove on YouTube since someone who leaves a defaming comment can quickly delete it.

    Slander and libel cases also have to overcome the litmus test called the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Under the First Amendment, Americans have the right to express free speech. Nonetheless, courts have ruled through the years that there are exceptions to the pure interpretation of free speech. The defamation attorney you hire at Morgan & Morgan will make sure your case clears the potential legal hurdle called the First Amendment.

  • Who Is Legally Liable for Defamation of Character on YouTube?

    Like other social media companies, YouTube discovers an act of defamation only when a victim reports an incident. The company does not have the resources to monitor each user’s posts 24 hours a day, seven days per week. This means anyone who is defamed on the social media network cannot sue YouTube. Another reason why YouTube is immune from prosecution for defamation of character is a law called the Communications Decency Act. Passed by the United States Congress in 1996, the Communications Decency Act protects websites and ISPs against litigation for defamation of character.

    If you are a victim of defamation of character on YouTube, your lawyer has to conduct an investigation to determine which party uploaded the defamatory content. Your only legal recourse is to file a civil lawsuit against the person or organization that defamed you on YouTube.

  • How Do I Prove Defamation of Character on YouTube?

    The first step to answer the question, “Can you sue for defamation of character on YouTube,” involves hiring a highly rated defamation attorney. Your lawyer then has to prove four elements that define defamation of character.

    Uploaded a False Statement

    The first element of proving defamation of character is demonstrating the other party uploaded a false statement. You might be the recipient of an offensive statement, but if the statement is true, it is not considered defamatory. Your legal counsel has to gather evidence that proves the defamatory statement is false.

    Statement Must Be Factual

    There is a difference between someone saying in a video “I think XYZ product is harmful to children” and “I know XYZ product is harmful to children.” The latter statement represents a statement of fact according to the person who presents the content. If you are a victim of a defamatory remark that is defined as an opinion, you cannot take legal action against the party.

    At Least One Person Saw the Defamatory Statement

    YouTube offers several tools that help users measure success. One of the most significant tools is the simple “Number of Views” counter that presents raw data on the traffic a YouTube channel receives. “Number of Views” is the tool your attorney uses to prove at least one person saw the defamatory statement.

    Hurt Your Reputation

    The last element of defamation your lawyer must prove involves presenting persuasive evidence the libelous or slanderous statement damaged your reputation. For example, if the host of a YouTube channel uploads a video entitled, “The 10 worst restaurants in Chicago,” and your restaurant finds its way onto the list, you might have a strong enough case to take legal action. The key is for your attorney to demonstrate the video contains factual content, not the opinion of the person who created the video.

  • How Should I Handle Defamatory Content on YouTube?

    As a victim of libel or slander, your first reaction might be to get even with the other party. However, you do not want to jeopardize the strength of your case by reacting in an adverse manner.

    Get Legal Support

    Litigating defamation of character cases presents several unique challenges that require the legal support of a state-licensed defamation attorney. Before you take any action, schedule a free case evaluation with one of the defamation lawyers at Morgan & Morgan. Your attorney not only provides legal support, but also gives you advice on how to avoid making decisions based on negative emotions.

    Remain Calm

    One of the problems with the YouTube comment feature is every time a comment is left, the person who is the recipient of the comment receives an alert. This feature encourages conversations that can escalate into defamatory content. You must remain calm even if the other party continues to disparage your reputation.

    Do Not Respond to Defamatory Content

    If you remain calm, you most likely will not act irrationally like responding to defamatory content. Fortunately, YouTube allows you to block a commentator who has damaged your reputation. To hide the comments made by a YouTube user, you locate the comments and then select the More option that is right next to the comment. Click the Hide User from Channel option and you do not have to read any more defamatory statements.

    Collect and Organize Evidence

    Before you hide and/or report defamatory content, you should collect and organize evidence for your legal counsel to review. Since the user defaming you might remove the video in question, you should download it before it disappears into cyberspace. For written content such as comments and video descriptions, take screenshots to preserve the libelous evidence.

    Report the Defamatory Content to YouTube

    You can flag a defamatory YouTube video to “report content that violates YouTube’s guidelines.” Before you report defamatory content to YouTube, consult with your defamation lawyer to determine if it is a good idea. Reporting a defamatory video to YouTube might motivate the author of the content to remove it.

  • What Should I Look for in a Defamation of Character Attorney?

    Working with a defamation lawyer can make the difference between restoring your good name and having to deal with additional acts of libel and/or slander. Since you can sue for defamation of character on YouTube, the next question is what traits should you look for in the best defamation attorney.

    Specializes in Defamation Law

    Defamation of character cases introduce several legal principles that you cannot find in other areas of law. You want the lawyer you hire for legal support to specialize in litigating defamation of character cases.

    Handles Your Case from Start to Finish

    Your lawyer should represent you from the day you meet for a free case evaluation to the day when the judge hearing your case issues a decision. You want to avoid hiring a lawyer who delegates some, most, or all of the legal tasks to a paralegal and/or an inexperienced attorney.

    Highly Skilled Negotiator

    Although a trial can end in a favorable legal judgment, you want to hire a defamation attorney who tries to negotiate a settlement before taking your case to trial. Negotiating a settlement requires your legal counsel to submit a reasonable offer for monetary damages, as well as the patience to back and forth with the other party until you reach a settlement.

    Responsive Communicator

    Your legal counsel will have other cases to litigate which means you cannot expect the lawyer to be available for conversations on short notice. However, the defamation attorney that you hire should return emails, phone calls, and text messages within 24 hours of receiving them.

  • Recover From the Damage Done to Your Reputation

    Now that we know the answer to the question, “Can you sue for defamation of character on YouTube,” the next step is to recover from the damage done to your reputation. One of our defamation lawyers will work hard to restore your good name, as well as seek monetary damages from the other party. Monetary damages include the value of lost wages and medical bills. As a victim of defamation of character, you might have lost your job and/or suffered from stress-related physical issues such as high blood pressure.

    You also have the right to seek monetary damages to cover the costs associated with pain and suffering. Damaging statements made about your reputation can trigger serious mental and emotional distress issues. Your defamation lawyer also can seek punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief that ends the uploading of defamatory content to YouTube.

    Schedule a free case evaluation to decide how to proceed with your defamation of character case.

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Last updated on Jun 08, 2023

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