Handling libelous blog comments

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  • January 17, 2008
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Recently an individual posted a negative comment about a company being discussed in one of the blog posts I published on Blogstorm last year. The comment was not only negative but, in my personal view, libelous (assuming the allegations were untrue). The company in question contacted me to request removal and I deleted the comment, along with several others, within 24 hours.

The reason the comment was deleted was because the same person (identical email address and IP but posted under a different name) had written another negative comment in the same thread about a different company. Anybody writing negative comments about two competing companies and promoting a third company in the same thread while pretending to be two different people is, in my view, probably not a legitimate commenter.

The fact that all three companies involved as well as the person leaving the comments (according to the IP address) were in the UK makes this issue very real. If one of these companies decided to take legal action there is a good chance the matter would reach court.

Lessons to be learned

Think twice before you approve blog comments that contain allegations about a person or company. If those allegations are false do you want to be dragged into a court case? Sometimes it’s just easier to delete the comments. Is this ethically or morally the right thing to do? Maybe not but for small blogs it is certainly easier.

Don’t ever post comments under false names, it is very easy for people to find out. I have seen some threads where companies create 4 or 5 comments under false names with the same IP and even the same company email address just to artificially promote their own products. If a blogger exposes this then imagine the damage to that companies reputation.

As a blog commenter it is easy to think you have a certain level of anonymity. We see comments posted in place like Digg every day which clearly had less than 2 seconds thought before the submit button was clicked. If you write something defamatory about another company then you have to be prepared for the consequences.

Finally: don’t involve a blogger in your personal crusade against another company.

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