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Internet blogging and the absolute truth

April 1, 2011
By MARIO D'ARTAGNAN, Real Estate in Perspective

We live in a world of instantaneous information -a world of technology that allows us the ability to use several search engines through the World Wide Web. It is this same technology that permits anyone to blog comments about products or services, without regard for truth, or the ability of the recipient to refute those comments due to anonymity of the writer.

Amazon.com encourages readers to give their opinions about books that have been sold through the website, and the content contained therein, without regard to objectivity. Search engines like Google can be used to find information about anything in the world. If you are curious about a company doing business in Alaska, you most likely can find it at Google.com. You are probably asking what this subject has to do with real estate.

In my research, I have discovered that Google also allows anyone with a computer to write comments and rate companies with whom he or she has presumably done business with. I am an advocate of the First Amendment. However, when someone, through the tap of a key, attempts to destroy the reputation of a business that took several years to build, that is where I draw the line. I discovered that one such writer wrote comments about a few local real estate companies that were baseless, and blatantly false. The allegations were so outrageous that someone reading the comments for the first time would question the plausibility of those comments immediately, provided he had some degree of intelligence.

Place those same comments in the minds of the people that actually believe everything they read well, you get the picture. The person that wrote these comments obviously did not understand the crime of defamation, and by writing the words to cast a negative image of these companies for the entire world to see committed libel. The only defense to libel and slander is the absolute truth. If there is no truth, there must be compensable damages, depending on the state. Under civil law states, libel is a crime and not a tort. The writer responsible for these posts commented about a second company on exactly the same day and time. Unfortunately, the legal department at this particular website has been placed on notice, yet failed to take action to remove these posts. Moreover, I was prevented from writing my own comments to the original post.

For anyone who may be considering badgering companies and their services without providing one iota of truth, there are ongoing investigations. If found guilty of libel, you will be subject to consequences under the law.

Mario D'Artagnan is a broker associate at Paradise Realty, specializing in domestic and European clientele. He is a former investigator for the Florida Real Estate Commission. He is also a former real estate instructor. He is a published author and has been a keynote speaker on the subject of agency law. He is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. For questions or comments contact him at mariodartagnan@yahoo.com or call 239-565-4445.

 
 

 

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