Saturday, June 23, 2012

Complain About Others Online Much?

You Could Be Guilty of Internet Defamation & Cyber Bullying
Libel and Slander on the Internet is a Crime in Canada.

Photo Credit: @stickyJesus

There are many people who have a hard time managing their emotions and conducting themselves in a professional manner when they become disgruntled. With the internet right at their finger tips, they 'loose it' and feel the need to go online to use social media to harm others. They take all their anger and frustration online and loudly shout it out across their social networks and blog to complain and bad mouth their victim – whether their victim is a person or individual, a group or organization, or a business or brand.

Despite there being any truth in their complaints or not, it is now a crime in Canada to publicly bash and humiliate others online for personal gain, and to commit libel and slander online. This crime is called Internet Defamation.

It is important for Canadians to understand the internet was never meant to be used as a tool to harm others. It goes back to proper education. For some reason certain people think that they are entitled to behave this way - using social media to harm - when in fact they are committing a criminal offence

Take stock of your online behaviour and answer the question: Am I using social media for good, or am I using it to hurt others?

To narrow things down even further, ask yourself these questions .... are you:
  1. someone who has written something spiteful, malicious or untrue about another person or entity online?
  2. a consumer who has made public complaints on social networks or blogged negatively against a supplier because you were upset or mad at them?
  3. Someone who rallied fans and followers against a person, a company or brand, encouraging negative behaviour of your fans and followers to participate in making negative derogatory comments?
  4. Someone who rewards a fan or follower for making the `best` comment against the person or entity you were talking badly about online?
  5. Someone who brags publicly online that you are posting negatively against a person or business on your social networks and blog to draw attention to yourself ?
  6. someone who hops on the bandwagon - when seeing negative posts, you jump in to make negative comments yourself, or you re-tweet, share and re-post?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have committed Internet Defamation and Cyber Bullying - both of which are criminal offenses.

On the flip side, if you are a business, brand or individual who is on the receiving end of someone’s malicious, spiteful comments, you do have rights under Canada’s libel and slander laws. While at one time it was believed there is nothing that can be done, that is no longer the case here in Canada.

I have taken the following information from a Toronto Law Firm Website that may be helpful to those who are victims of Internet Defamation:

The internet is a powerful communications tool. It gives us the unprecedented power to communicate a message instantly to our friends, family, and the world. The internet also empowers us to quickly reach a mass audience at a relatively inexpensive cost. Unfortunately, this power of communication can be abused all too easily.

Internet Revenge Victims
Is your business being ruined by a malicious consumer complaint or someone seeking on-line revenge? Has someone accused you of being a scam, a rip off, or a fraud. Are Google results ruining your reputation?

Defamation Law Issues
Are you a victim of a malicious consumer complaint? Has someone written something malicious or untrue about you online? Are you a blogger being silenced? Are search engine results ruining your reputation? Has someone accused you of defaming them? Are you an ISP or website owner concerned about the actions of your users? Do you have a question about Defamation of character?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it is possible someone has committed Internet Defamation and you are entitled to seek professional council and take action against the person committing the crime.

On the flip side, if you are thinking `Gee, I have done these things – I am the person complaining about poor customer service and making spiteful comments about people and businesses online` or 'Yikes, I re-tweeted, re-posted and shared someone's complaints, I even threw in a few of my own complaints' ... you may want to re-think your online behavior and digital footprints.

Still wondering if you are guilty? Here`s a good list taken from @stickyjesus - if you`ve posted or seen posts like this - you`ve committed cyber bullying at least, and quite possibly Internet Defamation:

You’ve seen the posts (and just maybe even shared a few): The service @____ is horrible
  • The waitresses @____ are clueless
  • Some people don’t deserve to _____
  • _____ customer service rep is______
  • That idiot at _____ figured my bill wrong
  • I will die of old age just waiting for service @____
  • The pastor at ______ is preaching on ______ again
  • My husband / wife is _____
  • My kid never____
  • That teacher is_____
  • Our (insert government leader) is an _____


Some people reading this post may be wondering why we are so passionate about this topic.

The bottom line is we work with local, national and international organizations that promote the responsible use of digital media and being a good cyber friend and neighbour. In this line of work, we educate others on Internet safety, creating positive digital footprints, and protecting your online identity, reputation, image and brand (Reputation Management) amongst many other things.

We work with many Government organizations, industry groups and corporate clients on how to use the Internet and social media for marketing, promotions and business communication. We help companies and individuals realize the benefits of using digital technologies as communications and productivity enhancement tools.

We also work with women and girl organizations on Internet Safety. With the amount of online cyber bullying, we stress the importance of adults being good role models in responsible online behaviour and using social media for good, not to use it as a tool to harm and hurt others.

Naturally, in both realms, we need to keep a pulse on Canadian legislation as it relates to Internet Defamation.  Quite simply, many people are not aware that when they complain online about others, they are putting themselves at risk of committing criminal offences known as Internet Defamation and Cyber Bullying.

We encourage everyone to use the Internet and Social Media responsibly, and to be a good Cyber Friend & Neighbour. Lets lead by example and be good role models for responsible use online behavior.

Author: Nancy Beth Guptill
Founder of Sweet Spot Marketing Canada
Digital Marketing & Social Media Training Consultant
Twitter: @SweetMarketing


MISSION:  We help companies and individuals realize the benefits of using digital technologies as communications and productivity enhancement tools.  Our goal is to encourage and motivate our clients to: Do, Act & Experiment.

DESCRIPTION:  We are Marketing, Digital Technology and New & Social Media training consultants. We live by the motto "It is better to know than to think you know - there is power in knowledge". Our goal is to share information on a variety of business development topics including digital technology, new and social media, marketing automation, creativity, commercial innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.

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