Any bad review or public complaint about you or your business can be damaging. Online defamation however can have many forms, from negative press in major news publications, to cybersquatting and negative reviews on review websites.
Defamation online could come from a variety of sources such as:
- Customer complaints that were ignored
- Malicious competitors
- Disgruntled employees
Should You Sue for Online Defamation?
While suing for online defamation is a realistic possibility, it’s usually best to use it only in extreme cases. A single false review probably won’t massively affect your revenues. However, a concentrated effort to distribute false information about your business could become a reputational risk. When someone publishes numerous fake reviews about your brand, you may need to take action.
Even if you don’t sue for online defamation removal, you still have to take action in certain cases. Actually, there are a number of methods you can tackle defamation without initiating a lawsuit that will help your reputation.
How to Handle Online Defamation
Contact the review website: Popular review sites and platforms have policies that allow for mediation or removal of fake or malicious reviews.
Contact the source: If you know the individual or the publication that posted the negative statement, contact them and ask them to delete it. Depending on the issue, some might retract the feedback or change it, so your reputation isn’t damaged. Keep in mind that you should have a polite stance instead of defensive and accusatory. You should not threaten with legal action, as this will likely further worsen the conflict.
Manage your reputation: If you fail to amend the review by contacting the website or the individual who posted the statement, you may be out of luck unless you want to initiate a lawsuit. However, a single review should not significantly damage your reputation.
An alternative to suing is to focus on building a positive reputation, so it outweighs any negative mentions. Create social media accounts, manage a blog, ask for positive reviews, and generally stay active online in a productive way so that search results reflect the positive side of your business.