Managing your company’s reputation online: Unmasking anonymous posters through defamation lawsuits

A look at the competing First Amendment interests, unmasking standards, and reputational risk that comes with these lawsuits


A company is confronted with a campaign of defamatory comments by one or more anonymous posters that is causing real reputational harm. The company has considered other alternatives detailed in Part 1 of this three-part series, such as posting a rebuttal or using the website’s own procedures to remove the posting. The company is frustrated and seeks advice on other options. At this point, the company can consider the litigation option — a lawsuit to unmask the identity of the anonymous poster and to bring suit for defamation. The company should not embark on the litigation option lightly and should be prepared for backlash from consumers and customers for its decision to sue, which again must be managed through its social media platforms and other public relations efforts.

Contributing Author

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Mary E. Gately

Mary E. Gately is a partner at DLA Piper LLP (US) in Washington, DC and is the co-chair of the litigation department and Co-Managing partner...

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