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    • Sarah5
    • By Sarah5 29th Nov 17, 11:18 AM
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    Sarah5
    Removing defamatory/slanderous online reviews
    • #1
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:18 AM
    Removing defamatory/slanderous online reviews 29th Nov 17 at 11:18 AM
    Hi,

    I was just wondering if anyone here has had experience removing defamatory/slanderous online reviews, especially the ones on google? I run a small business, and lately one of my competitors has been trying to ruin my business by posting negative reviews on my google map listing. I know the reviews are from my competitor because the same accounts that have left me negative reviews have left postive ones for my competitor. I have tried flagging the reviews and filling some forms on google to have the reviews investigated but that hasn't helped. Is there a legal way to get google to remove the reviews?
    Last edited by Sarah5; 29-11-2017 at 11:36 AM.
Page 1
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 29th Nov 17, 11:27 AM
    • 1,270 Posts
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    Comms69
    • #2
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:27 AM
    • #2
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:27 AM
    You can apply for an injunction, but post what the reviews actually say, as it may not be slander.
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 29th Nov 17, 11:29 AM
    • 5,559 Posts
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    00ec25
    • #3
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:29 AM
    • #3
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:29 AM
    how much do you want to spend on legal fees?

    naturally there is a legal remedy, you sue the writer for defamation (the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation)

    whether it is libel (a malicious, false statement in written media, a broadcast, or otherwise published words) is a moot point

    (slander is spoken - this isn't, its written)

    http://www.internetlawcentre.co.uk/defamation-and-bad-review-lawyers
    Last edited by 00ec25; 29-11-2017 at 11:40 AM.
    • Sarah5
    • By Sarah5 29th Nov 17, 11:43 AM
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    Sarah5
    • #4
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:43 AM
    • #4
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:43 AM
    how much do you want to spend on legal fees?
    naturally there is a legal remedy, you sue the writer for defamation/libel (slander is spoken not written)
    Originally posted by 00ec25
    As little as possible, my business is doing so great with all the negative reviews my competitor has posted online. How can I go about suing the the writer if I don't have any of their information? The Google profiles they have used for the reviews do not contain even their full names, sometimes the name on the profile is some random stuff like "puppy lover"! Do I need to sue Google to get the information for the review posters?
    • Sarah5
    • By Sarah5 29th Nov 17, 11:49 AM
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    Sarah5
    • #5
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:49 AM
    • #5
    • 29th Nov 17, 11:49 AM
    You can apply for an injunction, but post what the reviews actually say, as it may not be slander.
    Originally posted by Comms69
    Well one of the reviews says that the hairdresser has cut the review poster's ear off and the person has nearly died from blood loss! Obviously this has never happened, and this is clearly an attempt to scare people away from coming to my salon. The same person has also left positive review for my competitor down the road!
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 29th Nov 17, 1:45 PM
    • 6,084 Posts
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    TBagpuss
    • #6
    • 29th Nov 17, 1:45 PM
    • #6
    • 29th Nov 17, 1:45 PM
    I think that google lets you post a response - if so, I'd suggest positing something like
    "We believe that this 'review' has been posted either as a joke or as a deliberate attempt to damage our business. At no time has any customer been injured in our salon.
    We do however welcome genuine reviews and feedback"

    Which has the advantage of looking professional.

    It may also be worth asking a few of your regular customers whether they would be willing to post reviews (particularly if there are not very many at present or if the negative one is the most prominent.)

    You can also try flagging the review using google's own system. One of the criteria is "Impersonation: Don’t post reviews on behalf of others, or misrepresent your identity or connection with the place that you’re reviewing." - you could flag the review on the basis that the poster is misrepresenting themselves as a customer, and also as a personal attack (which is another breach of the rules) as they are making false allegations about you / your employees.

    You could apply for an injunction but this is expensive and time consuming.You *might* be able to seek an injunction against google for publishing the defamation rather than needing to identify the actual poster.

    However, if you want to go own the legal route then you need to see a solicitor who specialises in defamation and online issues, as it's a very specialised area of law.

    You might also consider having something on your own listing/site.
    Don't directly accuse of name the business you suspect, but you could have something saying that you've noticed some bizarre and very inventive reviews being posted, you have to assume that it's either bored children or perhaps a rival who is not able to compete on quality , price and service so is trying to scare your customers away instead, but that you are happy to assure all customers that no one has ever lost an ear in your salon - maybe even mention whatever safety / training qualifications your staff have.

    Keep the tone light - you're aiming to poke fun at the ridiculous claims.
    • trailingspouse
    • By trailingspouse 29th Nov 17, 1:55 PM
    • 2,452 Posts
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    trailingspouse
    • #7
    • 29th Nov 17, 1:55 PM
    • #7
    • 29th Nov 17, 1:55 PM
    Do the review sites have the option for you to reply to the posts? A simple statement that their review is untrue would be a step in the right direction. Anyone with half a brain would recognise these malicious reviews for what they are, but it wouldn't do any harm to make it clear in a reply.

    And you could tell your regulars what's happened and encourage them to post positive reviews so that the negative ones drop down the listings.

    Has this 'reviewer' posted anything negative on other local hairdressers' sites?

    Cross-posted with TBagpuss. Two minds...
    • Sarah5
    • By Sarah5 29th Nov 17, 10:36 PM
    • 5 Posts
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    Sarah5
    • #8
    • 29th Nov 17, 10:36 PM
    • #8
    • 29th Nov 17, 10:36 PM
    You could apply for an injunction but this is expensive and time consuming.You *might* be able to seek an injunction against google for publishing the defamation rather than needing to identify the actual poster.
    Originally posted by TBagpuss
    Thanks for the detailed response. Is there no easy way for applying for an injuction? Through small claims court perhaps? The profiles under which the reviews are posted provide little or no information regarding the person who owns those accounts, would Google not be responsible to ensure that fake profiles are not used to post defamatory reviews?
    • Sarah5
    • By Sarah5 29th Nov 17, 10:41 PM
    • 5 Posts
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    Sarah5
    • #9
    • 29th Nov 17, 10:41 PM
    • #9
    • 29th Nov 17, 10:41 PM
    Do the review sites have the option for you to reply to the posts? A simple statement that their review is untrue would be a step in the right direction....
    Originally posted by trailingspouse
    The problem is that most people don't even read the reviews, they just see a business with 3 out of 5 stars and will usually just go to a different one! My regulars have been helpful and have left quite a few positive ones so far, but the negative ones are not stopping. I can't even delete the listing from Google, you only have the option to mark the business as closed down and still showing on the map.
    • martindow
    • By martindow 30th Nov 17, 10:06 AM
    • 7,298 Posts
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    martindow
    Thanks for the detailed response. Is there no easy way for applying for an injuction? Through small claims court perhaps?
    Originally posted by Sarah5
    The small claims track is for claiming a sum of money.

    I think your real problem as that although you have a hunch who may be leaving these reviews you have no proof, unless Google would tell you who is posting comments (which I'm sure they won't). Spending money on fruitless litigation is not a good idea.
    • theonlywayisup
    • By theonlywayisup 30th Nov 17, 8:25 PM
    • 11,420 Posts
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    theonlywayisup
    As a MSE idea, you could send a Cease and Desist letter. This may (hopefully) be enough to make the reviewer see sense.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 1st Dec 17, 10:04 AM
    • 1,270 Posts
    • 1,033 Thanks
    Comms69
    Well one of the reviews says that the hairdresser has cut the review poster's ear off and the person has nearly died from blood loss! Obviously this has never happened, and this is clearly an attempt to scare people away from coming to my salon. The same person has also left positive review for my competitor down the road!
    Originally posted by Sarah5


    Well clearly that's no true (hopefully anyway), amateurs.


    Truth and honest opinion are the two defences to a claim such as this, obviously doesn't apply in this case
    • martindow
    • By martindow 1st Dec 17, 10:50 AM
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    martindow
    Isn't a major problem going to be that the review is posted with a user name? You can't post a letter to haircut5777 and I imagine that it is difficult/impossible to find out who it is.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 1st Dec 17, 1:56 PM
    • 1,270 Posts
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    Comms69
    Isn't a major problem going to be that the review is posted with a user name? You can't post a letter to haircut5777 and I imagine that it is difficult/impossible to find out who it is.
    Originally posted by martindow


    Not difficult or impossible, but time consuming. The DPA does not apply for the purposes of court action. So the OP would apply to google to get details, this may then require a further application to ISPs, but eventually he/she would get an address and could serve papers.


    If either google or ISP refuse, the courts can order the details be revealed.
    • martindow
    • By martindow 2nd Dec 17, 10:34 AM
    • 7,298 Posts
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    martindow
    Not difficult or impossible, but time consuming. The DPA does not apply for the purposes of court action. So the OP would apply to google to get details, this may then require a further application to ISPs, but eventually he/she would get an address and could serve papers.


    If either google or ISP refuse, the courts can order the details be revealed.
    Originally posted by Comms69
    I'm not sure this will be straightforward. Google will only remove reviews that contravene their guidelines and I'm not sure the the OP's will be covered

    https://support.google.com/business/answer/2622994?visit_id=1-636478072346686996-2720082587&rd=2

    And on this page
    https://support.google.com/business/answer/4596773?hl=en-GB

    Check the policy. Only flag reviews that violate Google policies. Don't flag a review just because you disagree with it or don't like it. Google doesn't get involved when merchants and customers disagree about facts, since there's no reliable way to discern who's right about a particular customer experience. Read the policy before flagging a review.
    • patman99
    • By patman99 2nd Dec 17, 9:07 PM
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    patman99
    Nothing stopping the op setting up a few accounts with throw away email addresses and posting a few negative reviews for their rivals.
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    • scaredofdebt
    • By scaredofdebt 4th Dec 17, 1:24 PM
    • 932 Posts
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    scaredofdebt
    Google should have a record of the IP addresses used, they could cross reference those with the one used by whoever setup the rivals listing, might be interesting to see if they match.

    However, this review DOES contravene Google's policy so it can be removed - " Reviews should be a genuine reflection of your experience with a place - don't post reviews just to manipulate a place's ratings"

    Link to do so:

    https://support.google.com/business/answer/4596773?hl=en
    • martindow
    • By martindow 4th Dec 17, 4:58 PM
    • 7,298 Posts
    • 4,079 Thanks
    martindow

    However, this review DOES contravene Google's policy so it can be removed - " Reviews should be a genuine reflection of your experience with a place - don't post reviews just to manipulate a place's ratings"

    Link to do so:

    https://support.google.com/business/answer/4596773?hl=en
    Originally posted by scaredofdebt
    True but this contradicts

    Google doesn't get involved when merchants and customers disagree about facts, since there's no reliable way to discern who's right about a particular customer experience

    in the same document you linked to.
    • robatwork
    • By robatwork 5th Dec 17, 11:31 AM
    • 4,008 Posts
    • 4,352 Thanks
    robatwork
    Interesting thread. We have a negative review, posted with a real name. It's really nasty & malicious (jump on your grave stuff) but just short of direct lies. A client didn't want to pay his bills and got the hump. We let him leave without chasing up as it was only a few hundred £.

    Google won't take it down and our only option is to take legal action or bury it in genuine positive reviews.

    Bear in mind google don't care about you and your hairdressing business, and will do nothing for you. Your only hope is to bury it with good reviews.

    I don't think there's an option in google reviews to comment but i could be mistaken.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 5th Dec 17, 1:25 PM
    • 1,270 Posts
    • 1,033 Thanks
    Comms69
    I'm not sure this will be straightforward. Google will only remove reviews that contravene their guidelines and I'm not sure the the OP's will be covered

    https://support.google.com/business/answer/2622994?visit_id=1-636478072346686996-2720082587&rd=2

    And on this page
    https://support.google.com/business/answer/4596773?hl=en-GB

    Check the policy. Only flag reviews that violate Google policies. Don't flag a review just because you disagree with it or don't like it. Google doesn't get involved when merchants and customers disagree about facts, since there's no reliable way to discern who's right about a particular customer experience. Read the policy before flagging a review.
    Originally posted by martindow


    Google as still obliged to follow court orders....


    Their own policies are not relevant. Same way as I could say - I have a policy of punching anyone who rings my doorbell in the face - I'm still breaking the law...
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