Leaving Website Reviews Can Result in Lawsuit. Seriously.

By November 12, 2008

Consumer review sites like Yelp and CitySearch have revolutionized the way customers interact with commerce. But increasingly, negative views are being contested by businesses – in court. Strax Rejuvenation and Aesthetics In

stitute in Lauderhill, FL, is suing a woman over an eleven-sentence review that was posted on citysearch.com, and The Grand Palms Golf & Country Club in Pembroke Pines is suing a woman for a similarly negative review.

"These suits are extremely common and starting to make their way through the courts," said Lyrissa Lidsky, professor at the University of Florida. "Courts are starting to develop balancing tests to guarantee it's a legitimate libel suit before they uncover the poster's identity."

Business even track down anonymous posters, subpoenaing IP addresses from Internet providers.

“[E]very time someone publishes anything online, whether it’s a news article, blog post, podcast, video or even a user comment, they open themselves up to potential legal liability,” wrote David Ardia, a fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society on Poynter Online.

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