Can I make my ex take down that nasty blog post? | City counsel
The truth can hurt your Google reputation, says Chicago attorney Ken Levinson
A (batshit-crazy) woman I used to date wrote a blog post regarding the events of a sort-of date we had. In it she uses my full name. (Meanwhile, she pens the blog under a pseudonym.) That post is one of the first entries that comes up in a Google search of my name. What are my rights in this situation if she refuses to take down the post?
The truth about the First Amendment is that the truth can hurt. Truth is often the best defense to allegations of defamation, false statements that harm or lower a person’s reputation. So if your ex’s statements are accurate, your Google problem will persist. Most blog hosts do have terms of service prohibiting certain topics—usually limited to hate speech, death threats, crude content (such as graphic photos of a gunshot victim) or confidential info (like credit-card numbers). But it may be worth contacting the host to see if it will take down the post. If the statements aren’t true (as your mom sure hopes they aren’t), you have a better chance at stopping her. Specifically, Illinois’s Slander and Libel Act lets you sue someone who falsely accuses you of “fornication or adultery.” Also, the statements don’t have to be facts to be considered defamatory—some opinions are covered as well. A U.S. Supreme Court case, Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., held that a statement is only a constitutionally protected opinion if it can’t reasonably be “interpreted as stating actual facts.” She can’t just throw “in my opinion” before a statement and claim it’s protected free speech.
Ken Levinson is a trial lawyer at the Chicago firm Joseph, Lichtenstein & Levinson. Send your legal queries to email@example.com.