What to do if you or your business are the target of harassment on a review site
Unfortunately, countless number of UK businesses and their directors are regularly being targeted by disgruntled people who often have not had direct dealings with the company they are targeting but rather have a grievance because the company is linked to someone they don’t particularly like.
Examples of who might be facing harassing and defamatory online reviews are lawyers who act on behalf of their clients but who are then targeted by the other side of the legal action or litigation, PR agencies who represent clients who some might find controversial or agents, such as estate agents or holiday companies who have brokered a transaction which resulted in disgruntlement which was not their fault.
It is often the directors of the companies that are being targeted personally on the review websites by mentions or their names and by attributing to their responsibility for something which is clearly they have little or no control over. There are different reasons why your business will want to remove online reviews from the internet and some of these reasons might be completely legitimate.
Firstly, assess the online defamation review and consider your response, very carefully. There is a difference between defamation and harassment on a review site. Not every defamatory review is classed as harassing. Harassment must be directed at a company officer, who might be a director. A natural, initial reaction to a negative, harassing review and online defamation tends to be emotional and if you are feeling agitated and want to respond with anger, you and your company could suffer adverse long-term consequences, such as the length of time it will take to deal with your reputation case.
It could ignite the online abuser to create more online defamation and harassing posts online, which will increase your reputational damage and thus prolong the time it takes to shut it down. A negative response to a negative review could make the situation even worse and you need to keep the reputational damage to a minimum. Making any contribution to the public exposure of the online defamation review, boosts its strength, visibility and attention.
As a target of harassment and online defamation, you might consider any response very carefully. If you do decide to respond to the harassing, negative reviewer online, you could enter into a never-ending dialogue, so carefully consider a one-time response. Make a good point and make it your one and only post in return. Post a professional and direct comment that is focused on your business, services, products and perhaps a note about your continued, repeat customers. Leave it at that.
Consider that whatever you say, it may have a huge impact on your organisation's long term reputation, negatively or positively. If it is a public company, then you have to consider share prices, also. Online harassment and defamation can cause so much damage to a company, no matter how large it is and how good their reputation is.
Being subjected to harassment and defamation against a company or its directors is often a stressful experience. One person's defamatory posts can be shared and tagged in no time on the internet and can cause unsettlement and doubt (despite being untrue) in any shareholders and investors.
In order to protect the investment of thousands of investors and to protect a company's reputation, Cohen Davis issued defamation proceedings on one small investor of the company, after his negative posts spread like wildfire across the internet and the company didn't quite appreciate how detrimental they were to their reputation.
Not responding to online defamation may stop the person from posting more negative comments but it may be too late in that the posts are already being tagged, shared and believed. The online defamation could be escalating.
We recommend that before you respond to online defamation and a bad review (whether it is against you or whether it is your company - large or small), that you don't take a gamble and that you contact us for professional advice, as soon as possible, to avoid further reputational damage and possible loss of customers and investors.
We can act quickly on removing the negative online defamation, resolving the harassment on a review site and save your reputation. Act now an and call our specialist business harassment lawyers on 0800 612 7211