Managing Fake Reviews Online
Have you or your business ever received any fake reviews online, or reviews which you believed to be misleading? Alternatively, have you ever thought about publishing your own false reviews online to balance out the negative reviews? As we have moved further into the 21st Century, people are becoming more reliant on what they read online for reviews as opposed to more traditional methods of review such as word of mouth. This can be a big problem if fake reviews are published about you or your business.
What can you do to manage fake reviews?
Under law, there are two primary courses of action that you could undertake if you identify any fake or misleading reviews.
It may be possible to bring a defamation claim against an individual should they intentionally publish fake reviews about your enterprise. Under the Defamation Act 2005, you may commence a defamation proceeding whether you are an individual or a company, if you employ fewer than 10 employees. If you employ more, then a company will have no cause of action in defamation. Companies should also be aware that they have no defamation recourse against someone who is deceased.
If you believe that a review has been published about you or your business and you believe it to be fake or misleading, then you should engage an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process of commencing either litigious proceedings or attempting to resolve the dispute without court intervention.
2. Misleading or Deceptive Conduct
If you can prove that fake reviews are intentionally published to mislead, to the detriment of your business, you may have an action under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 for misleading or deceptive conduct. If you believe you have a claim, then contact us and we can help guide you through the process.
Can you be liable for misleading and deceptive conduct regarding the reviews your business publishes?
You or your business may be liable for a misleading and deceptive conduct claim if you either:
- Selectively choose which reviews to publish, particularly if this involves removing genuine negative reviews, or
- Continually publish your own fake reviews under the guise of "customers".
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ("ACCC") took action against a removalist company in 2011 after they admitted to publishing testimonials which were not completed by genuine customers. This resulted in that business receiving a $6,600.00 fine.
It is therefore clear that the ACCC will step in if there is evidence of either doctoring genuine reviews or publishing reviews or testimonials completed by non-genuine customers.
Visit the ACCC for more information on how to manage online reviews.
How can Sharrock Pitman Legal assist?
Our experienced lawyers will be able to guide you through any process regarding online reviews and publications. It is imperative that you know your rights about protecting your business, should any fake negative reviews be published. Please feel free to give Mitchell Zadow a call on 1300 205 506 or alternatively fill out the form below if you have any queries.
The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Any legal matters should be discussed specifically with one of our lawyers.
Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
For further information contact
Mitchell is the Managing Principal of our law practice.
He is an Accredited Specialist in Commercial Law (accredited by the Law Institute of Victoria). He also deals with areas of Employment Law, Wills & Estate Planning and Probate. For further information, contact Mitchell on his direct line (03) 8561 3318.