Businesses Suing Clients over Bad Online Reviews

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January 3, 2011 – The practice of suing someone over defamatory content (libel) or statements (slander) has been around for hundreds of years. Most people associate these legal proceedings with celebrities or large corporations, but social media is now creating a new world of lawsuits involving smaller businesses and their customer reviews on social media sites.

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Never underestimate the power of customer reviews, especially in the digital age.

An ABC News report on negative online reviews told the story of a Chicago plastic surgeon who filed 3 separate lawsuits against 3 clients who he claims posted false and defamatory content about his practice on popular online review sites Yelp and Citysearch.

The lawsuits ask for $100,000 in compensatory and punitive damages against each of the women after Dr. Jay Pensler found their comments on the social review sites. Their reviews called him “dangerous” and “a liar” when it came to their supposedly botched breast surgeries.

After subpoenaing Yelp and Citysearch, Pensler’s attorney was able to track down the 3 women who posted the reviews, one of which posed as a man in her statements. Her attorney believes the comments do not constitute defamation; rather they are valid complaints about Pensler’s practice.

There’s much to know when monitoring the promotion of your business online, especially when it comes to client interactions on social media sites. A good way to avoid bad publicity on social media is to make sure that the content featured on your profile is professional and accurate.

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