If You Don’t Feed it, It Will Die

The Toronto Star is reporting about an online backlash against Const. Adam Josephs. Josephs filed a lawsuit against YouTube and some of its users for videos and comments found on YouTube. Some of them were removed. Now, new cartoons have appeared depicting Josephs in a negative light.

Without, commenting on the merits of the lawsuit, I think the immediate effect of this lawsuit has done more damage to the officer’s reputation than the initial postings.  This is a text-book case of a defamation lawsuit actually amplifying the defamation.

Since this lawsuit was filed, many media outlets have picked up the story.  It’s hard to believe they would have cared had Josephs not sued.

Now, Josephs finds himself being taunted by strangers.  One comment on Youtube criticizes Josephs and then says “Go ahead, sue me.”  Some of those strangers are on the other side of the world. As one commentator put it “Wonderful, this Story just made its way to Germany. Try to arrest us herre [sic], Mr Bubbles!”.

It’s worth reiterating what I wrote a while back in my Top Ten Things to Do If You have been Defamed on the Internet

Consider Ignoring It

After getting legal advice about the strength of your case, and understanding the scope of the defamation the best approach in some situations may be to simply ignore the defamation.  In some cases responding to the defamation may actually amplify the defamation.  Truth is always a defence to defamation and in a case where the person who made the libellous comments strongly believes that they are true, it may be wise to let the fire die without feeding the conflict by responding.  A lawsuit or the threat of a lawsuit will give the person a new opportunity to repeat the defamatory words.  Ignoring it may also be wise where very few people could actually read the libel.  This is usually the case where a large business has been defamed by a blogger.

It seems like restoring Mr. Josephs’ reputation at this point may be more difficult than getting those bubbles back in their bottle!