Facebook Defamation Law: Boycott Pages

Cartoon of disgruntled people to accompany blog post about Facebook boycott law
Facebook boycott pages can be brutal and bottom line crushing, which raises the question: What can business owners do to combat coordinated social media attacks?

Case Study: Consumers Create A “Boycott” Page on Facebook

According to company president John Dowd, Sundance Vacations had been in business for twenty-three years – largely without issue. But in its 24th year, all bytes broke loose. A disgruntled client created a “Boycott Sundance Vacations” Facebook page.

Needless to say, Sundance experienced a Titanic-sized sinking. According to Dowd, the Facebook boycott page was “the single worse thing that’s happened to [Sundance].”

Due to plummeting sales, precipitated by the disparaging profile, the travel company had to lay off over one-hundred employees.

Sundance eventually sued Facebook for defamation but lost. The social media platform won by arguing immunity under Section 230 of the CDA.

Can Business Owners Demand That Detractors Take Down Facebook Boycott Pages? Can The Page Creators Be Sued For Defamation?

Sundance’s failed Facebook defamation suit should not be a deterrent to businesses wanting to pursue Internet defamation lawsuits. It can be done; it has been done. But to increase the likelihood of success, enlist an attorney well-versed in online libel litigation.

Someone Created A Facebook Boycott Page About Your Business? Follow These 3 Steps.

What should you do if disgruntled customers, patients, or clients create Facebook boycott pages about you or your business?

First: Stay calm. Don’t snap and start railing against your detractors. It’ll just make you look:

  1. Crazy,
  2. Unaccommodating, or
  3. Overly defensive (and therefore suspect).

Second: Private message the Facebook boycott page and try to resolve the issue amicably. Be accommodating, not imperious. Respectfully prostrate yourself before their complaint. Ask what you can do to make things better. Don’t compromise your values, but be conciliatory — if possible.

Third: If your Facebook boycott detractors still refuse to negotiate a solution, then it’s time for legal action.

Elements of Defamation Under U.S. Law

Before you contact a lawyer, think about the validity of your case. Be honest with yourself. Are the Facebook baddies telling the truth? Because if they are, their actions are not defamatory.

Defamation is more than just negative, disparaging talk. In order for a statement to be legally defamatory, the plaintiff must prove that:

  1. The defendant was the party that published or spoke the contentious statement(s);
  2. The contentious statement(s) were false, unprivileged, and about the plaintiff;
  3. The plaintiff suffered either material or reputational harm as a result of the defendant’s statement;
  4. The defendant acted either negligently or “with actual malice.”

You will NOT win a defamation case solely because someone posted a negative quip about your business. Negligence, harm, and falsity must also be proven to win.

We’ve Dealt With Facebook Boycott Defamation Conflicts

Kelly / Warner was one of the first law firms to focus on Internet defamation. Our team has successfully guided hundreds of businesses and individuals through all types of online business litigation. An AV-rated law firm, Kelly / Warner enjoys a high success rate.

Call or send a message today to begin a conversation about your Facebook boycott challenge.