Identifying Libel

What is libel?

Libel is a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation of an individual and/or their business. The following four conditions must be met for a statement or comment online to be found libelous.

  • The statement is false.
  • The statement has a defamatory meaning.
  • You or your business has been clearly identified in the statement.
  • The statement has been published online.

If the defamatory communication is oral, such as in an online video, then that is considered slander (and you can report incidents of slander here, too).

If you’re in doubt as to if trade libel has occurred, consider the following example: “In my opinion, the soap is likely to cause harm to your floor,” versus, “The soap is likely to cause harm to your floor.” The latter is said by attorneys to meet a condition necessary for a trade libel lawsuit.

To learn more about those who elect to defame others on the Internet, review our Understanding Libelers page. File a report with us if you’ve been libeled (or slandered) online recently, or a long time ago, and you find that the incident continues to adversely impact you. Our reporting process will help you confirm that the offending text online likely contains libel.