Online LIBEL damaging attack - What can I do? Please HELP

21 replies
Hi,

First of all thanks for reading. I am trying to read as much as I can on this and will consult a lawyer. I know asking on a forum is not the best but I would like to kindly ask for your opinion as I am sure many of you warriors have gone through a case like this.

Someone on his website has written an article which is a personal attack to me. This person has written about an personal account he had with me (truth) but then has completely made up a story which carries very negative connotations towards me and my family. This is a person who I have done nothing to him but just happens to be a nosy person who likes to stir crap and make up stuff. The article is completely dedicated to trashing me (he is a very sad person).

I have a popular site (hence the hate from him and the written slander) and this person doesn't mention my name in the article. What he does, however, is mention my blog and me being the owner of the blog and how the "owner of this blog" did this and that. He also involves an apparent friend of his to support his version of the story he portrays in the article.

I have been reading on libel and from what I can gather, personal attacks in written form is what is known as "libel". I normally would not worry about such nonsense but the thing is his article appears in Page 5 SERP and I already have had comments about this. My site is relatively new so I don't have enough links to sink it in the SERP just yet.

My site is popular, I am an authority in my niche and I am very well aware of the importance of online image. This person is attacking me like this because he could not do otherwise.

I would appreciate any help.

Thank you oh so much.
#attack #damaging #libel #online
  • Profile picture of the author jamesrich1
    Think about the worst that can happen and accept it. That will put your mind at ease. Come up a plan on how you can prevent it from getting to its worst and follow your plan. Even if it gets to the worst case scenario you will have accepted that so the stress will have already passed. That is from Dale Carnegie "How to stop worrying and start living"
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  • Profile picture of the author NicoleBeckett
    If this person has written things about you that are untrue, then, yes, it's libel. And you'll need to take action fast... After all, it doesn't take long for things to make the rounds on the web.

    Have you told this person to remove everything that's untrue about you? I'm no lawyer, but that would be my first step. Then, if he refuses, get yourself a lawyer. A cease and desist letter may scare him enough to take it down ASAP.
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  • Profile picture of the author chihuahua
    Yeap a cease and desist would do nicely, but if you need to do anything further than this, it can be very expensive, legal actions aren't cheap. I would say the best is to try to make peace with that person.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bisturi
      Originally Posted by jamesrich1 View Post

      Think about the worst that can happen and accept it. That will put your mind at ease. Come up a plan on how you can prevent it from getting to its worst and follow your plan. Even if it gets to the worst case scenario you will have accepted that so the stress will have already passed. That is from Dale Carnegie "How to stop worrying and start living"
      Thanks. To be honest, I am putting myself in the worst shoes hence why the anxiety. Thing is, I am on my way to become an authority in my niche and with my site I help a lot of people and this person has attacked me personally (not my site) and also involved my family.



      Originally Posted by NicoleBeckett View Post

      If this person has written things about you that are untrue, then, yes, it's libel. And you'll need to take action fast... After all, it doesn't take long for things to make the rounds on the web.

      Have you told this person to remove everything that's untrue about you? I'm no lawyer, but that would be my first step. Then, if he refuses, get yourself a lawyer. A cease and desist letter may scare him enough to take it down ASAP.
      Thanks. 2 things I am thinking of doing:

      1) Approach person directly. This person doesn't like me and will probably write more about how I approached him and make up more stories (I can really see him doing that).

      2) First ask a lawyer, see if this can be taken the legal way. If it can be, then I approach the person, if he says no, then I say I have consulted a lawyer and can take actions. Thing is, I don't have the resources (monetary/time) for this.

      How would I do a cease and desist? What would the desist part equate to? Saying that I would proceed with legal action, even if I don't have the resources for it?

      Originally Posted by chihuahua View Post

      Yeap a cease and desist would do nicely, but if you need to do anything further than this, it can be very expensive, legal actions aren't cheap. I would say the best is to try to make peace with that person.
      I really want to tackle this now. I am trying to build backlinks to sink his article in the ranks. However, I think that approaching this person directly would lead to making more of a mess as this person has a lot of FB friends that laugh at his stupid stories (the Streisand effect).
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  • Profile picture of the author Theory5
    A cease and desist letter is simply a letter telling the person to stop what they are doing or they will face legal action for their unlawful actions. A cease and desist ORDER must be issued by a judge or similar authority while a cease and desist letter can be sent by anyone, though usually lawyer.

    desist simply means not to take up the action at a later date
    Cease and desist - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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  • Profile picture of the author NicoleBeckett
    Again, I am not a lawyer, but.... If you're going to approach the person first, do it in writing (an email, registered letter, etc.). That way, there's a clear record of what was said/not said. If this person is already making things up about you, it's up to you to dot your I's and cross your T's as much as possible, so that he doesn't have any ammunition to do more.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      I don't agree with contacting the person who wrote the potential libel.

      It was an article published on someone else's website - and the owner of the site would be my first target. Most site owners don't want their sites used for personal agendas.

      I would let an attorney deal with the person distributing the lies - but be prepared to provide proof the statements are false.

      Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.
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      • Profile picture of the author FredJones
        Tough luck. But be very careful about what you do if you are going the legal route. For example, make sure that if the person changes the website content the moment you sue him, you can prove that the content's altered since accusing so that you don't end up in false allegation situations. And there can be other situations. Take it cautious.
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        • Profile picture of the author TeamGlobal
          Originally Posted by FredJones View Post

          But be very careful about what you do if you are going the legal route. For example, make sure that if the person changes the website content the moment you sue him, you can prove that the content's altered since accusing so that you don't end up in false allegation situations. And there can be other situations. Take it cautious.
          Fred makes a good point here.

          Make a screenshot of the content in question or a screen capture video of the content for your records. This may in handy should you decide to pursue the matter further.

          All The Very Best,

          Tony
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          • Profile picture of the author Bisturi
            Thank you all.

            Good point on whether this is libel or not. I tried researching and I believe it is:

            1) This person tells an account of meeting me, not my name, just "this guy who owns this website"

            2) This person says X and Y occurred when he met me (made up crap)

            3) This person also involves a family member of mine in the story to make me even look worse.

            Results? This person claims that my family member even said that I was a bad person (massive LOL). My trust as an online persona is affected and as an offline person too. As usual, the typical envy of the loser (my site is my own hobby yet I am much more popular than this person who is actually trying to make a living of what to me is a hobby).

            This person has in his website a bunch of articles dedicated to making fun of people, by the way.

            I am undecided whether to:

            1) Contact a lawyer (how does this work? I email them and explain my case, they look at it, then get back to me? All this free?)

            2) Write to the person to remove content.

            3) Write to the host of the website about my case if lawyer says it is libel. Will they take down content for libel?

            4) Play the game, outrank his website exposing all the crap he does.

            Anyone?
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      • Profile picture of the author tpw
        Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

        I don't agree with contacting the person who wrote the potential libel.

        It was an article published on someone else's website - and the owner of the site would be my first target. Most site owners don't want their sites used for personal agendas.

        I would let an attorney deal with the person distributing the lies - but be prepared to provide proof the statements are false.

        Good luck! Let us know how it turns out.

        Agree.

        Go after his distribution points first. Then let your attorney deal with him.

        As far as page 5 in the SERPs... It might as well not exist...

        Fewer than 2% of all search users dig past page 2.
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        • Profile picture of the author Bisturi
          Originally Posted by tpw View Post

          Agree.

          Go after his distribution points first. Then let your attorney deal with him.

          As far as page 5 in the SERPs... It might as well not exist...

          Fewer than 2% of all search users dig past page 2.
          Thanks. What do you mean by distribution points?

          The person is in the SERPS for the name of my site, not the actual URL. So if you search the name of my site, it appears (now on Page 6)

          What ways can I further sink his article? I believe the article could have a PR 1 because it is posted in a page with several articles/posts. I am assuming that simply writing the name of my site on forums won't hold as much SERP power as this article, so this tactic would not work (am I correct?)

          As I say, he is ranking for the name of my site, not the URL.
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  • Profile picture of the author Farish
    What are the negative remarks is he making about you? How does this affect your reputation. Does he say you are ugly? Does he say not to be trusted? You need to be clear about how he is attacking you.

    People tend to forget that there is 3 key terms here about what he might be saying.

    There is libel.
    There is criticism.
    There is opinion.


    If libel was really that clear cut and easy, then websites like perezhilton, tmz, etc would all be gone to the wayside.

    The point is you have to prove that he truly ruined your reputation.
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    • Profile picture of the author cjreynolds
      Originally Posted by Farish View Post

      The point is you have to prove that he truly ruined your reputation.
      And that can be really difficult.

      Has your site's popularity fallen? Has your traffic to the site decreased?

      Just because he's bad-mouthing you, it doesn't necessarily mean that anyone believes him, or even cares. His rantings may even increase traffic to your site - you never know...
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  • Profile picture of the author EllesBelles
    Lawyers usually don't work for free. In the UK, you can usually get an hour free to discuss your case - give a brief outline and they'll tell you if you have a case. After that, you'll pay either an hourly or a set fee.

    If you do write to them, make sure it's all correct - if you don't know what you are doing legally, do a large amount of research, or you might need a lawyer anyway. Some only charge a flat fee for writing letters, so that can be a cheaper option.

    The host can take down content for libel, but they won't necessarily do so. Write to them with proof and chances are they will, but a random email isn't likely to cause them any concern. If your lawyer writes to them, that would hold much more weight.

    Finally, you can try to outrank him, but the content will still exist. If its damaging, that isn't good.

    I suppose you have to do what you feel most comfortable with.
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  • Profile picture of the author zaco
    How can you prove that this person is the same person ( in real life) ? you said there is no name..he might have done the posting from a proxy and once you sue him and it turns out its not him..or he took the precautions so he won't get in trouble.. he will sue u back
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  • Profile picture of the author intergen
    I have experienced this first hand at a company I worked at but it was an attack on the website then eventually on the CEO (small company).

    The owner (before I got hired) did indeed serve the blogger with a cease and desist. This intensified the situation dramatically. The person who was served the cease and desist reached out to his online community and got the attention of some major bloggers and blogs (TechCrunch for one) and basically stated he was being prevented his right to freedom of speech. The blog wars began and the SERPS were littered with extremely bad postings from multiple sites and sources (all within legal bounds as the CEO hired several attorneys to fight it).

    Bottom line it cost the company 100's of thousands of dollars in lost business and eventually they went out of business (this was only a contributing factor).

    My thought is that if he is not ranking high in the SERPS within your niche and for your name let it go. Most likely it will just go away. If he writes again consider what effect it will have and determine if it will have an effect on the SERPs for your company, your name or your niche.
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    • Profile picture of the author Bisturi
      Originally Posted by intergen View Post

      I have experienced this first hand at a company I worked at but it was an attack on the website then eventually on the CEO (small company).

      The owner (before I got hired) did indeed serve the blogger with a cease and desist. This intensified the situation dramatically. The person who was served the cease and desist reached out to his online community and got the attention of some major bloggers and blogs (TechCrunch for one) and basically stated he was being prevented his right to freedom of speech. The blog wars began and the SERPS were littered with extremely bad postings from multiple sites and sources (all within legal bounds as the CEO hired several attorneys to fight it).

      Bottom line it cost the company 100's of thousands of dollars in lost business and eventually they went out of business (this was only a contributing factor).

      My thought is that if he is not ranking high in the SERPS within your niche and for your name let it go. Most likely it will just go away. If he writes again consider what effect it will have and determine if it will have an effect on the SERPs for your company, your name or your niche.
      I learnt that all that commotion you mention has a name the "Streisand effect" and is precisely why I am thinking of just letting it go. This person has moderate social power to get some talking about this and snowball this crap.

      Thing is, my popularity is increasing rapidly (hence this person's jealousy) and anyone who wants to search about me and my site would certainly want to dig past Page 3 and would find this crap.

      Seriously, I can't believe this person would write such crap and be so freaking nosy. How loser-ish can people be online, I just can't understand it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Fernando Veloso
    Get a lawyer.

    Maybe you can talk to Brian and ask his opinion: View Profile: kindsvater. Hell of a good guy.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      Distribution points:

      Exactly what I said above - contact the person who OWNS the site that published this article.

      Someone on his website has written an article which is a personal attack to me.
      So - the site owner is a third party - and that's the distribution point.


      Play the game, outrank his website exposing all the crap he does.
      That's lowering yourself to his level - is that really where you want to be?
      You can ruin your own reputation doing that.
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