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Defamation Is Not a Victimless Crime: The Impact of a Negative Review

Julie understands the ins and outs of social media in the digital age.

Your negative review may have a large impact.

Your negative review may have a large impact.

What Are the Consequences of a Negative Review?

As the world of social media and online content has grown, more and more people are okay with airing their grievances online. It’s easy to call out a business owner, former boss, or someone who know basically nothing about when you can hide behind a computer screen.

In the heat of the moment, it is easy to write a scathing review and send it off into the depths of cyberspace without a backwards glance. When you have a negative experience with a business you want to make sure that other people don’t have the same misfortune. While it is good to fight for transparency, more often than not, these reviews can go too far.

Oftentimes, disgruntled customers will leave reviews on a page before they have even given the business the chance to respond. This can come in the form of a Google review, Yelp post, tagging them in a Facebook post and more. By not giving the business a chance to remedy the situation or handle it at all, those customers that post false or twisted reviews are actively defaming the company or organization.

It is easy to assume that these reviews and posts won’t actually do anything, but they can have severe implications for businesses and individuals. Our internet history follows us everywhere now. All you have to do is Google your name and tons of search results will pop up. Because of that, defamation in the form of reviews and public forum posts with false information can be incredibly damaging.

Getting all of your emotions and feeling out in the open might feel good at first, you have to remember that posting that false information can potentially ruin people’s lives. Whether it’s a post saying a business refused to serve you when you showed up 10 minutes prior to closing or leaving a nasty review on a former coworker’s business page just to settle a score, this defamation has wide-reaching consequences.

Defamation is not a victimless crime. People spend years carefully honing and perfecting their work and their business to make sure that all the information out about them is accurate. Spreading information that you know is false about them tears all that work down for essentially no real reason.

Checklist Before You Post a Negative Review

  1. Bring up the issue with the business directly. Be upfront. If there is something that is troubling you, go straight to the person or business and bring it up. Open communication can solve almost any problem.
  2. Write the review or content in an email and revisit it later. I get it, when something happens that makes you really frustrated it’s hard not to want to “get back at” the person you feel wronged you. So write it out but don’t put it anywhere. Once you have written it, close your laptop and come back to it later, if you still feel the same way after cooling down, see if you can go talk about it first before posting.
  3. Consider what would happen if someone did the same to you. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. What kind of impact would that review or post have on you and your business? Turn the tables and think before you post.
  4. Think about how it could reflect on you. What if someone sees the post from you? What will they think of you for the post? Will they think it is an overreaction? Will it impact your own life negatively?

In a world of highly digital content, more and more information gets posted every day. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes it’s harmful. Think before you post and you might save both yourself and many other people from a lot of headaches and frustration.

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© 2018 Julie Queler


Julie Queler (author) from Florida, USA on September 17, 2018:

Brad, I disagree. It only takes someone 3 seconds to make an opinion about someone or something. If they go to a business' Yelp page and the first thing they see is a negative review, that customer might not bother to go to that place. If that review is fake, that's hugely damaging to that business. You can't just ignore it.

And truth and opinion aren't the same thing. You can't write a review about a Mexican restaurant and say the food was terrible because it was spicy when you ordered something spicy knowing you don't like spice. That's an unfair and biased review.

Julie Queler (author) from Florida, USA on September 12, 2018:

I am not assuming that all people who post any reviews are wrong. But I do think that there is a huge problem with people posting false reviews just to harm a business or person for no real reason. Defamation is a big problem. People hide behind their computer screens with fake names, photos, and profiles. I am simply asking that people only post the truth.

Brad on September 11, 2018:


I am sorry but I couldn't see your point here. You assume that people are not truthful when they post an issue. It is the issue that caused them to post it in the first place.

Truth is an absolute defense to Defamation.

Many businesses that do a bad job, don't get the positings they deserve. And the other customers have to decision to believe them or not. The more people that had some bad to say, the more the customers will think twice before doing business with that company.

People that have had no resolution with the company, its workers and its management need to post as it is their last resort.

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