No matter how thick skinned you may think you are any personal attack hurts. One that defames your personal reputation or your brand is bound to trigger anger. However, reacting emotionally rather than responding intelligently is extremely unwise. Take your time to consider the actions you can take before you respond and others will think better of you for keeping your blogging cool.
Defamation is a false accusation of an offense or a malicious misrepresentation of someone’s words or actions harming a person’s reputation and character. If spoken and repeated, it is slander; if printed, it is libel. Harassment is repeated conduct that is unwanted and is known to be offensive.
Case law has established that the Internet is not a wild west environment beyond the arm of the law. The right to freedom of speech comes with responsibilities and there is no such thing as anonymity. Judges can and have ordered Internet service providers to disclose the identity of people using pseudonyms to defame others.
If you are the target of a defamer first consider the seriousness of the article or comment.
- Does it distort the facts?
- Does it libel you? (Libel is a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation. The legal rule of thumb is: ‘fair comment’ must reflect an honestly held opinion on an issue of public interest based upon proven fact and must not be motivated by malice.)
- Is there any actual damage done?
- Or does it merely hurt your ego?
If you have been a victim of either of libel or slander, there are steps you can take. Your first step for responding intelligently to another person who has personally attacked and defamed you is to contact the author and/or Admin of the blog, politely refute the statements(s) made and ask them to take down the content in question. Wherever possible I recommend doing that privately.
If you take further steps you must you provide proof of the false statement and any responses made to the statement. It’s important to read the policies of your web host before acting.
If your attacker/defamer is a WordPress.com blogger as well then you will find relevant information at the links in the excerpts below:
A set of rules for WordPress.com blogs about what content is and isn’t acceptable on our service. If you have an issue with a blog on our system, please select one of the following to route your complaint.
Defamation, liability WordPress.com is an internet service provider. We are based in the US, as are all of our servers. As such we are covered by section 230(c) of the US Communications Decency Act which states that internet service providers are not held liable for content (such as allegedly defamatory, offensive, inaccurate, or harassing content) that is posted on the sites they host for their users.
Defamation, abuse, threats: We suspend content for inciting violence or threatening or impersonating a private person.
These guidelines are intended for lawyers or government officials who seek information about a WordPress.com user or action against a resource hosted on our network. Dispute Resolution & Reporting » Legal Guidelines
Because it’s frequently done anonymously and because launching a libel action further publicizes the libel, cyber-libel is difficult to deal with. When examining your options see Handle Online Attacks Effectively, What to do when your blog is attacked and What a Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging.