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Should Your Company Go After Anonymous Bloggers?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

If your business has ever received criticism by an anonymous blogger, you may be irritated. You might also start to wonder if defamation law might be on your side.

Suing someone who has caused harm to your businesses' reputation and cost you money can be an option.

But it's more difficult now that there are various online platforms like Facebook, online message boards, Twitter, or forums where bloggers can keep their identity under wraps. Businesses may wonder if it's ever an option to go after someone who is nameless. It is - but whether or not it's a good idea is up for you to decide.

If you have the blogger's IP address, there are methods that you can employ to track down where the offending posts came from.

On the other hand, if all you have is their username you may have a more difficult time getting a handle on their identity. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) like Google isn't required to give you their personal identifying information. In fact, they'll likely fight to withhold this information to protect their customer. You'll probably have to win a court order to reveal their identity.

And courts can be hesitant. If the defamatory post is considered political speech, it can receive a high level of First Amendment protection. This can hinder your chances in court.

Courts, however, seem to be more inclined to grant orders in cases where anonymous bloggers have posted confidential insider information on the web.

You should also be aware that the blogger themselves can assert certain privileges to shroud their identity. In some circumstances, they can claim a reporter's privilege, which can protect them under their state's shield laws.

Companies that go after anonymous bloggers will likely face hurdles even though remedies are available under defamation law. Therefore, it might be necessary to go through several court proceedings in order to prevail.

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