How can you deal with slander on the internet?
A problem encountered by many entrepreneurs is the slandering of their business on different blogs and social media networks.
Can the slanderers hide behind the Freedom of speech right?
Many of those who use such methods in order to bring harm to the image, dignity and honor of a person justify their actions using the Freedom of speech right as a compelling argument, as being a right guaranteed by The Declaration of Human Rights and also protected by every democratic country’s constitution.
But what they do not know is that this civil right is not an unbreakable wall behind which they can hide from the repercussions of their actions. No right can be exercised with the sole purpose of affecting the rights of others, and even the fundamental liberty that is the freedom of speech can be restricted when it is used to cause prejudice to others.
How can we defend ourselves?
The New Civil Code of Romania can provide us with the answer we seek. Corroborating article 253 that refers to the means of protection that can be used by natural persons with article 257 of the same code, if we find ourselves in the case when our company’s image is affected we can ask the courts to take the following measures:
– The cease of the action that damages our image if it is ongoing, and banning it for the future;
– Making the slanderer to publish the conviction on his own expense, in this way making the court’s decision public knowledge;
– Having the slanderer pay a fine;
Are there precedents?
Recently, a French blogger was sentenced to pay a 1500 euro fine and another 1000 euro on court expenses after publishing a negative review about an Italian restaurant. As a result of the court’s decision the negative review was erased from the blog.
The review appeared in the first Google searches and the owner of the restaurant stated that because of this he lost a lot of business.
What do Romanian courts say?
In 2010 there were two separate legal actions submitted, the first one at the Regional Court of Bacau and the other at the Bucharest Court of Law. The object of both of the actions were claims of monetary compensation for the damage suffered by people whose image, dignity and honor were slandered on the internet.
In both cases, the slanderers posted on sites and social networks ill-founded allegations that regarded the personal lives, the professional activities and the businesses of the plaintiffs.
In both cases the courts have admitted the claims of the plaintiffs, the slanderers were compelled to give the plaintiffs monetary compensation.
To conclude, my advice is not to let ill-intentioned people to slander your business, or even your personal life via internet publicity methods. You must act to protect your business!