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Strategies to Counter Online Disparagement are Available

When your business or product is being disparaged online, you have legal recourse, although not always as strong as you might want.  When the statement is false or could reasonably be interpreted as a false fact, you can bring an action against the “speaker.”  What provides the most angst for a business that feels aggrieved by an online statement or review is that opinions are not actionable, and are protected by the 1st Amendment.  Even anonymous statements are protected, so long as they are not defamatory.  These protections are why online negative reviews are hard to remove.  As options, consider if the statement violated the Terms of Use of the platform on which it was posted; abusive and hateful posts are often prohibited and can be taken down.  Assess if the statement disclosed a trade secret or violated a confidentiality agreement or disparagement clause. Consider if a trademark or copyright was used in the post and was infringed.  Often a marketing department has the best tactics to diffuse online criticism, negative comments and disparaging statements.