Knowledge of how the Internet works is vital to successfully combating online defamation, especially since many anonymous posters are experts at manipulating search engine results. Taking positive steps to protect your name and reputation can yield favorable results. There are a number of tools and strategies you can use to protect and defend your reputation, including:
• Search Engine Optimization;
• Trademark and copyright registrations; and
• Filings and prosecuting lawsuits for infringement, defamation, trade libel, and interference with business relationships.
… anonymous posters are experts at manipulating search engine results.
The use of “Search Engine Optimization” (“SEO”) tools can help you fight fire with fire. SEO allows you to use the same tools the posters use, blogs; forums; and social networking websites, to combat online defamation. Simply put, you consistently and vigorously publish high quality content on the Internet, including but not limited to positive posts, customer reviews, instructional and testimonial videos, and comments which taken as a whole, relegate the negative comments lower in the search results. While this strategy does not remove the original content from the Internet, you have effectively “engaged” the poster at his own game by pushing the positive results higher and at the same time pushing the negative lower.
Make the CDA Work for You
Although the CDA protects online publishers from actions based on defamation, no such protection exists for violations of intellectual property laws, such as trademark and copyright infringement. By trademarking your name and logo and copyrighting your website(s), you can force websites to remove online references that infringe on your intellectual property rights.
Legal action should be considered a last resort because the legal process is lengthy, costly and, given the current state of the law on Internet defamation, may not yield the results you want. If legal action is required, you want to make sure to hire a law firm that has significant experience in reputation management and Internet defamation actions.