Online Defamation – A Subtle Threat to Businesses and Individuals

In today’s technologically advanced world ‘internet’ is a powerful medium of sharing information. The business owners are well aware of the power of online reviews on acquiring new customers and how disruptive fake reviews are on their reputation and business.

What is online reputation?

For all businesses the way their brand is perceived is a major factor. These days offline public relations management is no longer sufficient. The present Google reviews are one major online tool for this perception making.

These online reviews like Google review are a much sought after public relations tool. These work both ways, they can enhance your reputation, but they can tarnish it as well.

Online defamation

The online Google reviews, if positive, can help you to expand or retain existing customer base. If these reviews are negative they not only affect the new customer acquisition, but can also alienate existing customers. The negative review can be about any of the following-

  • Product
  • Staff behavior
  • Business practices
  • The appearance of your business premises.

These negative Google reviews could be false. These can be posted by

  • An angry customer or
  • The competitor’s

An angry customer may lash out by posting fake reviews or your competition may use the reviews to tarnish your image.

These come under the category of online defamation. Now the question arises how to get a bad review removed from Google or any other online platform.

Management of bad reviews

The primary step in stopping the fake review is to know that it is there. You need to first track the reviews being posted about you or your business.

If the review is on one of the online platforms and if its fake or abusive language is being used then it can be removed. Care must be taken to handle genuine negative reviews with a positive approach otherwise it may backfire.

The problem comes when you need to tackle the fake reviews posted on Google. You need to approach Google with evidence to take down the fake reviews.

Google has a policy set that governs the posting of these reviews. If your case falls under any of following categories then you may get relief

  • Advertising – If an advertisement offering similar services is placed in the vicinity of a bad review.
  • Off topic reviews – Personal grudges or rants disconnected to the topic.
  • Use of profane language
  • Hate speech – Reviews based on race, gender, etc.
  • Impersonation – Reviews placed by non-customers/users impersonating as genuine customers/users.
  • Conflict of interest – Individuals being compensated to write negative reviews.

Legal action

Many times when normal channels like Google or other search engines fail, the only discourse left to business owners or individuals is Legal action.

Google states that it will accept court orders or even third party orders as proof that the particular post is defamatory and will voluntarily take it down. You will need expert help to tackle malicious defamation targeted at you or your businesses. You should acquire services of attorneys to handle the legal action.

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