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Today’s marketing strategies involve a strong focus on the customer experience. Companies are going above and beyond to make customers happy in ways they have never done before. This is driven by the needs of a new generation that interacts with companies on a far more social level than those before them.

Unfortunately, as companies become more accessible on social media, they also find themselves the victims of defamation. When most businesses think of defamation, a formal claim may come to mind. Maybe someone files a deceptive suit in court or sells a fake story to a news agency. However, social media and fake reviews can lead to defamation too. This is especially likely if the person has a large and engaged following.

Forbes believes defamation occurs when an individual makes the following claims:

  • Someone misstates an opinion about a brand as a fact.
  • An individual makes a false statement that can have damaging effects on the brand’s reputation.
  • In either of these cases, the person communicates the information to a third person or publishes it.
  • The subject of the statement suffers harm as a result of it.
  • An individual becomes liable because another individual under their control made the statement, such as an employee.

It is important to note that when an individual shares their opinion and ensures it is understood as such, it may not count as defamation. Defamation requires that a statement is made as a provable — or disprovable — fact. If the claim is stated as a fact and is true, it is often better not to pursue it. This might only result in further embarrassment. With that said, prepare for the entire defamation case to become public knowledge.

According to NPR, the harmed subject of a fake and defamatory story can file a lawsuit known as a tort. This is a civil lawsuit, similar to a personal injury claim. The difference here is that the injury is to a person’s character or reputation versus physical harm.

The individual may hold not just the original “seller” of the story responsible but also all others that communicated the defamatory statement. This does not necessarily include re-sharing a social media post, but rather publishing that on a website or in the newspaper as factual.