Businesses are frequently defamed by former employees, customers or even competitors. Some of the most damaging defamatory statements are those published on social media websites or online review or opinion platforms. Unfortunately, defaming a business online and injuring its reputation in the community is all too easy. A single negative review can devastate a business’s reputation and, consequently, its bottom line. If you or your business have been defamed, you may be wondering what your rights and options are, and if you have any legal recourse.
Fortunately, defamatory speech does not enjoy First Amendment protection. See, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964). In most states, including Ohio, a person who publishes a false statement about a business with the intent to harm the business’s reputation may be liable for damages. This includes statements made online, including on social media or review websites.
Defining Defamation: What Ohio Business Owners Need to Know