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Posting Negative Yelp Reviews Can Get You Sued
New York Magazine ^ | 2/5/14

Posted on 02/05/2014 1:04:24 PM PST by nickcarraway

Last week, in a Fairfax, Virginia courtroom, a jury announced it had determined a homeowner's Yelp "review" of a local general contractor was in fact old-fashioned slander. It started in 2011, when Jane Perez posted a review that alleged contractor Dietz Development LLC had not only performed shoddy and destructive work on her home without a license, but also that a member of Christopher Dietz's crew had stolen her jewelry. So Dietz sued for defamation, to the tune of $750,000 in damages, which he may have been awarded had he not responded on the social network with what the jury determined to be defamatory response posts of his own.

This is the latest, most recent blow to business as usual for Yelp, the site where a series of brutal and negative reviews posted by mostly anonymous users, for instance, might accelerate the demise of a newly opened restaurant. Last fall, New York State fined several businesses, including a frozen-yogurt shop in Brooklyn, a total of $350,000 for outsourcing spurious Yelp reviews to services based in Bangladesh and the Philippines. And in early January, the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled that basic First Amendment rights did not extend to seven users who posted negative reviews of an Alexandria-based carpet-cleaning service. Yelp responded to the Virginia Court of Appeals ruling by saying it failed "to adequately protect free speech rights on the Internet" and constitutes an attempt "to silence online critics."

The site has 117 million users a month, so for now, it's doubtful that recent legal cases actually imperil what passes for free speech therein. Right now, users who would be better served by going through more traditional channels with grievances are most at risk: Dietz and Perez have been going back and forth in court since early 2012 because of their Yelp antics — the latter also posted on Angie's List — the process has been arduous and expensive, and now neither party will walk away with damages. "If you don't have a pro bono lawyer like she did," Public Citizen attorney Paul Alan Levy tells Yahoo, "it can be quite taxing financially."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: angieslist; defamation; lawsuit; libel; postercomments; posterreviews; reviews; slander; yelp

1 posted on 02/05/2014 1:04:24 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

They’re pretty vague on what was said, but there are things in this world that if you say them about somebody you better be able to back it up. One of the things they mentioned was she said the contractor stole jewelry from her, accusations of theft would be high on the list of defamatory claims one better be able to back up.


2 posted on 02/05/2014 1:07:58 PM PST by discostu (I don't meme well.)
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To: nickcarraway

“Posting Negative Yelp Reviews Can Get You Sued”
useless headline. Designed to get you to read the article, which then doesn’t develop what was in the headline.

Slander and defamation can get you sued.


3 posted on 02/05/2014 1:10:03 PM PST by I want the USA back (Media: completely irresponsible traitors. Complicit in the destruction of our country.)
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To: nickcarraway

Newspapers have been making up stuff even before we were a country. Some “slander” disputes were settled with a duel.

I am for free speech, but does that mean individuals can say anything about you, your business, your church, etc. whether it’s true or not? I guess that is what libel laws are for, but with the internet, once it’s out there, there is not much you can do to eradicate the lie even if you win your case.


4 posted on 02/05/2014 1:11:43 PM PST by rusty schucklefurd
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To: nickcarraway

I generally use Yelp to post compliments to businesses who I think are doing a good job.

For those who aren’t, the forces of the market will eventually take care of that by themselves.


5 posted on 02/05/2014 1:14:38 PM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: I want the USA back

“Slander and defamation can get you sued.”

and it should


6 posted on 02/05/2014 1:16:27 PM PST by MNDude
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To: discostu
A claim of criminal wrongdoing is defamation per se; you better be able to prove it.
7 posted on 02/05/2014 1:19:21 PM PST by FredZarguna (Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch!)
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To: nickcarraway

For food and lodging, Trip Adviser is the ticket.


8 posted on 02/05/2014 1:19:53 PM PST by colorado tanker
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To: nickcarraway

First the author seems to not know the difference between slander (spoken) and libel (written). That said, posting *false* negative reviews of a business online ought to be the basis for libel suits, and successful libel suits at that. I have no idea whether this case was rightly decided or not, but unless American courts decide to trample on our history and adopt British standards for libel, posting *true* negative reviews, or reviews which merely express negative aesthetic judgements, might be the basis of a suit, but a suit which the plaintiff is doomed to lose.


9 posted on 02/05/2014 1:21:19 PM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know...)
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To: nickcarraway

Beware what you post on Yelp about Democrat Care!

Sincerely,

Your hard working Democrat Leaders


10 posted on 02/05/2014 1:21:23 PM PST by Mark (Obama Care is now DEMOCRAT CARE)
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To: FredZarguna

It’s always good to remember the first episode of Penn & Tellers BS, they explain that calling people liars and frauds is actionable, where as calling them #$%^er and $%^holes is not, so through the course of the show they’ll be sticking to the latter. Steer clear of actionable words in your Yelp reviews, keep your life simpler.


11 posted on 02/05/2014 1:22:29 PM PST by discostu (I don't meme well.)
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To: discostu

Just this morning, there was some pro-gun control loser who said this on a local news message board here in Denver:

Don Carlon:
“Please take note that Randall Flagg is a paid shill for the gun lobby and the Republican Party”
http://www.9news.com/comments/376454/346/Colorado-Dems-uphold-concealed-gun-permits

Now, I searched all over my house and couldn’t find a single receipt or check for this. And, I’m not a republican.

Can I go after this bum?

LOL!!


12 posted on 02/05/2014 1:22:49 PM PST by RandallFlagg ("I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn't know how to use it." --Quigley)
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To: RandallFlagg

“Paid shill” would not be on the list. Also I think anyplace you’re using a pseudonym is automatically non-actionable since the didn’t really defame you.


13 posted on 02/05/2014 1:25:30 PM PST by discostu (I don't meme well.)
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To: nickcarraway

I’ve noticed that the Italian restaurants in town tend to have a lot of negative internet reviews. I’ve wondered if they are defaming each other in an attempt to suppress competition.


14 posted on 02/05/2014 1:26:08 PM PST by DannyTN
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To: nickcarraway

I’ve noticed that the Italian restaurants in town tend to have a lot of negative internet reviews. I’ve wondered if they are defaming each other in an attempt to suppress competition.


15 posted on 02/05/2014 1:26:09 PM PST by DannyTN
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To: discostu

Yeah, but I still thought it was hilarious.


16 posted on 02/05/2014 1:26:31 PM PST by RandallFlagg ("I said I never had much use for one. Never said I didn't know how to use it." --Quigley)
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To: discostu

Bull crap story once again. She accused him of stealing that is why she was sued and NOT because of a negative review. I hate that people eat this crap up and believe it because of the misleading headline.


17 posted on 02/05/2014 1:26:49 PM PST by napscoordinator ( Santorum-Bachmann 2016 for the future of the country!)
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To: RandallFlagg

It is. There was somebody on FR that always insisted I was a paid shill of just about everything, I added on my page that while I was not a paid shill if the price was right I would be. Good times good times.


18 posted on 02/05/2014 1:27:59 PM PST by discostu (I don't meme well.)
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To: nickcarraway

Easy call. Slander. Next.


19 posted on 02/05/2014 2:09:08 PM PST by RIghtwardHo
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To: nickcarraway; Revolting cat!; GeronL
Last fall, New York State fined several businesses, including a frozen-yogurt shop in Brooklyn, a total of $350,000 for outsourcing spurious Yelp reviews to services based in Bangladesh and the Philippines.

More outsourcing of computer jobs that Americans on unemployment could be doing!

20 posted on 02/05/2014 4:02:09 PM PST by a fool in paradise ("Health care is too important to be left to the government.")
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To: Buckeye McFrog
Buckeye McFrog said: "For those who aren’t, the forces of the market will eventually take care of that by themselves."

Almost twenty years after having to fire a worker I received a phone call from someone, explaining that the person in question gave me as a reference.

My response, with a rising inflection, was, "He DID?"

The caller said, "Thanks, that's all I need to know".

21 posted on 02/05/2014 9:03:21 PM PST by William Tell
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To: RandallFlagg
Can I go after this bum?

In Canada, it would be a slam dunk.

22 posted on 02/06/2014 12:58:05 PM PST by Bloody Sam Roberts ("The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." - George Orwell)
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