A former employee posted a negative review of our business to a popular website in order to tarnish the business’ reputation, can I get it taken down?
Dr. G, common question, and tough to resolve. I asked Caroline Wallitt of our firm to comment on the above. Here is what Kate has provided:
Most online review websites contain “content guidelines” or “user guidelines” which state the type of reviews that are allowed on their sites. If the review falls into one of the categories of reviews that are not allowed, it would be wise to contact the website and request that they take the offending review down because it is in violation of their user guidelines. However, these websites receive many requests for removal of negative reviews, and your request may not receive a response for a significant amount of time, or may simply go unanswered. In the interim, it would be wise to determine if the website allows for business owners to respond to negative reviews. For example, www.yelp.com, has a feature which allows business owners to create their own account, and are given the opportunity to defend themselves against all negative reviews. Responding to a negative review with the positive attributes of your business may ease some of the negativity of the review. However, business owners should be cautious when responding to criticism, no matter how fraudulent. Finger pointing and/or accusations made against the negative reviewer will likely do more harm than good for potential future business.
If contacting the website does not solve the problem, and you wish to seek legal action, you may subpoena the website for the identification information of the reviewer, so that you can contact the reviewer directly. Simply contacting the reviewer and requesting they take down the negative review may be sufficient. If the reviewer refuses, the next step is to file suit against the reviewer for defamation. Again however, business owners should be cautious when deciding to file suit against a negative reviewer. Unfortunately, no matter how fraudulent the review may be, bringing suit against an individual who wrote a bad review may attract more negative attention throughout the internet blogosphere then the negative review alone. Of course the potential result varies on a case-by-case basis. I recommend discussing strategy and next steps with legal counsel.
Contesting negative online reviews
Contact Jennifer at Jennifer@Kirschenbaumesq.com or at (516) 747-6700 x. 302.
at a residency/fellowship program?
Contact Jennifer directly at (516) 747-6700 x. 302 or at Jennifer@Kirschenbaumesq.com