There is conventional wisdom in the business community that social media is an opportunity to expand the broad canvas of advertising media for a business. Certainly, it is a valid channel of communication, but it is not without risks.
The most obvious risk is, some posting sites are largely unregulated. There is the potential for individuals to post negative comments on, for example, Google Places and other review sites. Such negative comments will often remain either unchallenged, generate more negative comments, or invite a response on the forum which will only increase the negativity of the comments.
There is a large difference between a Facebook page and third party review sites. On your own Facebook page you can at least exert a degree of control on what the public can see or post. Word of Mouth and Google Places, for example, will often have comments in an environment over which the business has no control.
A casual examination of Google Places shows a variety of comments. In some situations, there are very few comments and they are mostly negative. For a business, negative comments on a review site could potentially have a negative commercial impact.
Having the review removed is not as simple as you might think. Google suggests on its help pages, that you negotiate with the person who has posted the review. This may not always be productive. Further, the name of the reviewer is not always disclosed or can only be guessed at from the comments.
Generally, if the ‘reviewed party’ directly asks for the review to be taken down, it is not met with a quick response, simply because of the sheer number of postings.
A business who has been the subject of negative comments on social media may have the legal right to have the comments removed and/or recover its loss and damage as a result of the review. Such rights will obviously depend on the circumstances of the particular business and content of the review.
Often, your legal representatives can bring the matter to a close with some correspondence between the parties concerned. It is prudent to seek appropriate legal advice and have the matter dealt with promptly.
For further legal advice and assistance, you can contact our office on (07) 3161 2846 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, you can contact Brad Wright, barrister-at-law, on (07) 3007 1777 or email@example.com.
Written by Brad Wright, Barrister-at-law and Elizabeth Rebolledo, Solicitor
Brad Wright is a junior counsel at the Queensland Private Bar. After a career in health practice and business, he was called to the bar in 2011. He has interest and experience in defamation, family, property and administrative law and trial experience in Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal of NSW and Queensland. He has appeared in QCAT and VCAT in administrative law matters, and trials in the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court. He has acted as the Counsel for Independent Children’s Lawyer. He has also had experience in Domestic Violence, Child Protection, the Fair Work Commission and the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. He is a Nationally Accredited Mediator.