Responding to Negative Online Reviews

March 3, 2015 By James Dimos
Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers

You work hard to create the right experience for your customers. And then, someone writes a scathing review on Facebook. Don’t despair. There are steps you can take to respond to those negative online reviews, protect your hard-earned reputation, and perhaps turn a negative into a positive.

Can I sue the scoundrel?

Sure, but it isn’t easy. A business suing for a negative online review must prove:

Opinions or hyperbole are not defamatory. But truth or “substantial truth” is a defense.

If the statement is just communicated to you, then it isn’t defamation. Posting it on a public site for others to see without your permission constitutes publication.

Businesses typically are considered “public figures,” which means that you have to show the poster knew the statement was false or entertained serious doubts about the truth of the statement but made it anyway.

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