Whether it’s on social media, a review site, or some other online platform, being a target of online harassment or defamation can be highly stressful. Unfortunately, both situations can happen to anyone, and it may affect your personal life, professional life, or often times, both.
1.) Remain Calm and Devise a Plan
This may be the most difficult step, as it isn’t easy to remain calm when you’re being personally attacked online. However, by doing so, you will better be able to handle the situation. Though you may be tempted, do not immediately go on the counter-attack; this may only serve to make things worse. Instead, evaluate all of your options before responding and come up with a plan of action.
2.) Gather Evidence
Secondly, you’ll want to gather all evidence related to the online harassment or defamation. Most people will use multiple platforms to post their harmful statements, so do your research and check as many platforms as possible for evidence of defamation.
Once you have an idea of how widespread the problem is, make sure to preserve evidence of all instances of defamation by taking screenshots, copying the URLs, and making copies of any included videos. This step will be crucial if you decide to pursue legal action.
3.) Identify the Responsible Party
Along with gathering evidence, you’ll also want to identify who is responsible for defaming you, if at all possible. However, sometimes, people will use fake names or accounts for harassment or defamation purposes. It can be more difficult to identify the person or persons behind a fake name or account, but there are methods of achieving this in some cases.
4.) Try to Resolve the Issue Amicably
If you can identify the person responsible, you may be able to resolve the issue amicably. Keep in mind that threats of legal action or other angry responses may prevent an amicable resolution. On the other hand, sending a letter, asking that this person remove their defamatory comments and explaining why they should do so may prove more successful. It also may save you money in the long run by helping to avoid legal expenses.
5.) Report Defamatory Content
Another option is to report the defamatory content or harassment to the platform on which it has been posted. Internet platforms have rules and regulations for users and may be helpful in removing the harmful content. If the person refuses to remove the content themselves or if you can’t determine who posted the content, this may be your best route.
6.) Pursue Legal Action
If all else fails, you may want to pursue legal action in order to protect your reputation, as well as to seek compensation for damages caused by the harassment or defamation. This may be a difficult decision, but it can also be the best one if nothing else has worked. If you are unable to determine who is responsible for the harmful statements, you might be able to file a John Doe lawsuit, in which the responsible individual may be determined through some detective work.
However, keep in mind that not all attorneys have experience with online defamation cases. Therefore, finding one who specializes in this area is important for the best possible outcome.