June 28, 2015
To be clear: Ripoff Report is not opposed to redacting certain information in specific situations. However, it’s important for consumers to understand that RipoffReport enjoys defamation immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which we’ll get to below.
Nonetheless, does the company’s courtroom success mean it’s impossible to get information removed from ripoffreport.com? No, it doesn’t. Legal – and technical – remedies are available to businesses that have been falsely burned on Ripoff Report.
Don’t Sue Ripoff Report; Sue the Poster
Suing RipoffReport.com for defamation, over a report posted by a third-party, is almost always futile. Why? Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act confers online libel immunity to ISPs and webhosts for third-party postings, so long as they have nothing to do with producing or significantly editing the content in question.
Section 230 Delivered The Web You Know, Love and Now Need
At first thought, you may think, “Section 230 of the CDA is ludicrous! Print newspapers are held responsible for published articles, why shouldn’t websites be held to the same standard!?”
What is the difference between newspapers and websites? Simple: newspapers aren’t interactive, websites are. If Section 230 of the CDA didn’t exist, you’d never be able to leave a comment on a blog or forum. Without Section 230, the legal risk would be too dangerous for websites to allow user comments. Consumer review websites like Yelp! And even Amazon couldn’t survive in an atmosphere where ISPs were held responsible for the content of user comments. .
Get Defamatory Ripoff Report Pages Removed From Search Engines Instead
Though Section 230 of the CDA also protects search engines from being forced to remove list results in the U.S., some search engines voluntarily comply with court orders. Specifically, an order from a recognized judicial authority, which has declared the content unlawful (i.e. defamatory), is normally honored by search engines. There are differences in the types of court orders, and Google does not always honor them.
To summarize: if something on Ripoff Report is genuinely defamatory, some search engines may honor a court order to remove the libelous content from their indexes. That way, when someone searches for your name or business, the page on which the defamatory statement rests will not show up in search engine results, rendering the listing mostly invisible to the public. Additionally, Ripoff Report has indicated that they may redact certain information with a valid court order. (Note that every case is different, and the best solutions are usually within the details. A 500-word article is not an adequate vehicle to delve into the nuance of the related laws. If you are dealing with a libelous consumer review, speak with an experienced Ripoff Report removal attorney.)
Image Credit: Flickr/Joan Nova
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