Responding to Negative Online Reviews
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:
- The review contained an untrue statement of fact that cast you in a negative light.
Opinions or hyperbole are not defamatory. But truth or “substantial truth” is a defense.
- The review was published to a third party without authorization.
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.
- The author knew the statement was false or acted with reckless disregard for the truth.
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.
- The statement caused actual damages or defamation per se.
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