Google, Facebook & Yelp have made it so mainstream to leave reviews that people leaving reviews don’t even think they could get themselves sued.
What these people don’t realize is that leaving an opinionated review with no facts is akin to libel (defamation in print form) and can get the person posting a lawsuit.
The whole argument that these big companies provided the platform to defame others makes it somehow okay. It’s not. And sadly, those big companies are protected by Section 230. (Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields internet companies from legal liability for content posted by its users.) Meaning Google, Yelp and Facebook are in the clear while the poster who left the negative review goes to court.
So leaving reviews that state “Not Helpful”, “Don’t hire this horrible person” or even “This business is trash”, may seem harmless…they are just opinions that don’t contain any meaningful facts.
If leaving a review…one that you wish to be taken seriously…you should state the circumstances, and the reasons for your frustration with said business. Unfortunately most people leaving reviews do so from an emotional state. Sadly, its those in-the-heat-of-the-moment reviews that tend to bite the poster in the behind later.
Oh, and what’s really bad about the system…Google, Facebook and Yelp encourage people to keep posting reviews. And sometimes they even go so far in defending the actions of the poster. Yup, the business after getting the negative review flags it as inappropriate or non relevant or even from a competitor in hopes of making it go away. Only to receive from such platforms “the post does not go against our community standards. We suggest you reach out to the person who left a review and ask that they remove it.”
So you reach out…to either get ignored, told the review is staying or “for XX dollars I’ll remove the review.” And you’re thinking, “WTF, that jerk has the audacity to extort me.”
Now you’re fuming and want justice. You call your attorney (or a staff member if you are an attorney) to craft a letter threatening legal action to remove the negative review. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.
Either way the entire system of online reviews is broken.
I believe if you create a platform to showcase reviews you should also have a system in place to make sure those reviews are legitimate and accurate in nature. That means not accepting blatantly false or misrepresented reviews. That means all reviews need to be verified for authenticity and believability. This does a few things… gives the platform more credibility, makes the poster of such review more believable and prevents untrue or opinionated pieces from causing harm to businesses.
But that’ll never happen. The platforms don’t have the extra manpower to police their review sites. And since they are protected by Section 230 they will never need to.
Rob is affectionately known as “Mr. Sarcasm” to his friends - to everyone else he’s a Certified Digital Marketing Strategist, a Foremost Expert On Specialized SEO, a Best Selling Author, Podcaster, Speaker and Authority Broadcaster who can help amplify YOU to your audience.
Rob has authored, coauthored or produced over 36 books covering social media, search engine optimization, podcasting, copywriting, personal injury law, weight loss, military law, life lessons, scams, sarcasm, customer service and more. His book clients include lawyers, speakers, doctors, real estate professionals and more.
Rob is also host of The E-Heroes Interview Series available on Apple, Amazon, Google Play, Stitcher, Spotify & many other podcast channels. Rob works inside corporations across the globe, helping companies generate new revenue and capture online business.
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