Distribution of False Information

Distribution of False Information

You've been defamed if someone or multiple people have published, spoken, or distributed false statements about you online, either with negligence or the intent to harm your reputation.

Slander is spoken or verbal defamation, while libel is written defamation.

  • A reader Tweets a statement accusing you of lying in an article, or being paid by a third party to write an article
  • An ex-partner posts false statements on Facebook claiming you have gotten an abortion or have an STD
  • Someone online tweets or posts a statement on a web page falsely stating that you have committed a crime
  • Someone emails your employer with a false claim that you are doing something illegal or otherwise compromising to your job
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First, make sure you:

  • Secure your physical safety
    -- Consider: Call 911, move location if feel unsafe, tell a friend

  • Complete a threat assessment to understand your risk level
    -- Determine if the statement qualifies as a form of defamation (i.e. slander, libel)

  • Save properly before deleting posts and communication

  • Consider telling someone you trust for help


Then, choose what to do:

Write down why the statement constitutes defamation and assess damages

Send email or message requesting removal of information and/or retraction
-- Consider asking an ally to help you manage communication/responses

Identify who else the published information might impact
-- Decide if and how to communicate with them

Tell your employer if the information threatens your job

Decide whether to post a public response to the claim(s)


Consider doing the following:

Request removal of claim(s) from:
-- Websites
-- Social media platforms
-- Search Engines

Obtain legal assistance

Secure your financial, social, email, and other personal accounts

Save and print any communication related to your case and/or the postings
-- Includes items from the police, search engines, sites, publishers, etc.
-- Avoid uploading private information into public archiving spaces

  • Request removal of your personal information from people-finder sites

  • Hire an attorney to help you take legal action, such as:
    --Sending a demand, cease and desist, or threat letter to the perpetrator or website
    --Request for settlement, trial or litigation

  • If you don’t know who made the posts, attempt to uncover their identity
    -- Request police to file evidence preservation request to website
    -- File an action
    -- Subpoena served for host website or ISP (for IP, PII)
    -- Hire a lawyer or investigator

  • To increase security/restore reputation:
    --Increase digital security precautions
    --Monitor mentions and set Google alerts
    --Manage SEO
    --Request takedown of other related information
    --Generate positive content
    --Contact ISP, credit bureaus, or other third parties
    --Hire paid reputational services