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What is libel and how might it harm your company?

If people are unsatisfied with a product or service, they may be likely to complain. Word of mouth can either help or harm businesses in Cincinnati and elsewhere. It is, in fact, a powerful form of advertising. However, in some cases, the things a customer or someone else says against your company can give you a valid legal reason to fight back.

Statements against a person or company that are false and meant to cause harm may be classified as slander or libel. Slander pertains to spoken words, while libel may be a written statement, according to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School. In order for a statement against your company to be considered slanderous or libelous, it must be proven that the person who said it knew that it was false but intended to portray it as fact; that a third party heard or read the statement; and that the statement caused financial harm to your business or hurt its reputation.

Today, many people take to the Internet to relate their experiences about a company. They may post statements on social media sites, such as Twitter or Facebook. It is also a common practice to write reviews on online review sites, so that other potential customers may be either encouraged or forewarned about doing business with your company. It is not considered libelous if an unsatisfied customer writes about his or her experience with your company on an online review site. However, if he or she knowingly posted a false story to hurt your business, this is a different matter. You might be able to take action against the person if you could prove that the review was false, that other people read it and that your business suffered as a result.

This information should not be taken as legal advice, since business litigation is a complex topic.

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