Social Media and
Online Business Defamation

In June 2019, a total of $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages was awarded to Gibson's Bakery after the jury found the defendant (Oberlin College) guilty of defamation. Negative statements about people or businesses appear regularly on social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. When a potentially defamatory statement is made online or through social media, your business reputation, growth, and revenue may be affected.

If you believe you or your business have been "defamed" online or via social media, you may be able to file a claim against that person. Attorney David Schwartz can evaluate your situation and discuss your options regarding suing for social media defamation in California. He can represent you vigorously and help you pursue fair compensation for your damages. He proudly serves business owners throughout San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda County, San Mateo, Oakland, and the San Francisco Bay Area of California.

Defamation in California

Under California law, defamation can be described as false, published statements that cause damage to the reputation of a person or business. California Civil Code states that defamation is effected by either libel or slander.

Types of Defamation

The types of defamation include:

  • Written (Libel): Cal. Civ. Code §45 describes libel as a false and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye.
  • Verbal (Slander): Cal. Civ. Code §46 describes slander as a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered.

Defamation vs. Negative Remark or Opinion

Negative remarks and comments about an individual or business are usually confused with defamation. Before a statement is considered defamatory, it must be a lie.

Most online comments are protected under the First Amendment (freedom of speech). However, if the opinion is outrageous or made specifically to harm the reputation of the person or business, it can be defamation.

Moreover, since opinions are privileged under the law, a plaintiff cannot bring a defamation claim for an opinion, unless viewed as a statement of fact.

Proving Defamation in California

To prove defamation in California, a business must show all of the following:

  • The statement made about the business or its products and services was false or untrue but claiming to be a fact.
  • The statement caused harm, injury, or damage to the business.
  • The statement was published or communicated to a third party.
  • The statement was not privileged (confidential).

Defamation Recourse

If you believe your business has been "defamed" online or via social media, you may do the following:

  • Sue the internet provider.
  • Sue the employer of the person who posted the remark online or on social media. For instance, you can sue the newspaper for something said or published online by their reporter.
  • Sue the individual who made the false statement or posted the negative remark on social media.

Recoverable Damages

If a plaintiff is successful in their defamation case, they may recover the following as damages:

  • General damages to cover loss of reputation, shame, and hurt feelings.
  • Special damages to cover damages to the trade, business, property, profession, or occupation.
  • Punitive or exemplary damages may also be awarded to further punish the defendant.

How Attorney David H. Schwartz Can Help

Defamation, whether slander or libel, can be bad for any business. Such false statements online or on social media can affect your business reputation, revenue, and growth, significantly. If a defamatory statement made via social media has caused harm to you or your business, it is crucial that you retain a knowledgeable commercial litigation attorney as soon as possible.

Attorney David H. Schwartz has been handling business defamation, libel, and slander-related matters for over 45 years. Using his hands-on approach, Mr. Schwartz will identify the defamatory statement and prove its inaccuracy. He will fight vigorously to protect your business reputation and attempt to pursue fair compensation for your damages. The Law Offices of David H. Schwartz can offer you the experienced legal guidance and advocacy you need.

Work with an Experienced Business Litigation Attorney in The San Francisco Bay Area

If you believe you are a victim of a defamatory statement against your business, online or via social media, contact the Law Offices of David H. Schwartz for a one-on-one case assessment. Attorney David H. Schwartz can fight vigorously on your side to protect your business and hold the responsible party liable. Mr. Schwartz is proud to serve clients in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Alameda County, San Mateo, Oakland, and the San Francisco Bay Area of California.


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