Has your business received a bad fake review?

Public news

President Trump has made “fake news” the catch-cry of the last couple of years. With the rise of social media, online advertising and news, where everyone with a smart phone can be an influencer, not only news can be fake.

Fake reviews on Google or Facebook and false comments on social media can significantly impact on a business. Sometimes these fake reviews or comments can come from disgruntled customers, but other times they are placed online by competitors, or simply influencers.

To assist members resolve cases like this, the MTA is providing social media training on 29 April 2020, available both for personal attendance at our Greenhill Road office or via online webinar. This social media training will also cover how to handle inappropriate posting by employees and the legal ramifications to consider.

Click here to register.

In early February, Adelaide lawyer, Gorden Cheng, won a $750,000 defamation payout against a woman who gave his firm a bad review on Google. Mr Cheng told the court he lost about 80 per cent of his clients between from the bad review when a former client made him aware of it in February 2019.

However, his case is one of the rare successes in bringing legal action for defamation, for one very simple reason: Online companies are taking the view that they will not disclose the names of those posting offensive material unless there is a court order. It seems likely there are many more court orders on the way too.

More recently, a Melbourne dentist who claimed he was defamed in an anonymous online review convinced a Federal Court judge to order Google to unmask the disgruntled customer. Dr Matthew Kabbabe claimed the potentially defamatory reviews, written under a pseudonym "CBsm 23", had cost him a significant amount of money. After Google refused to identify the reviewer, Dr Kabbabe went to court and succeeded in getting an order that now forces Google to identify the reviewer so that Dr Kabbabe can launch legal action if he chooses to.

Unfortunately, individuals who anonymously post on social media often push boundaries, which they would not usually do if they were identifiable. People tend to take the view that what they post on social media is similar to a telephone call — they seem to assume there's no real record of it and they can't really get into trouble.

This is not correct and the attitude of online and social media companies in refusing to identify posters makes action very difficult, and often costly.

Even the MTA recently had a fake review posted on its Facebook page, with the “reviewer” using the reviews section to spruik a possible fraudulent financial services firm. Facebook were able to remove the review as we could prove it was not relevant to our business.

It is important for businesses to be familiar with the issues that arise from social media and online presence, both in the workplace, and in dealing with customers.

A reminder to register for our social media training by clicking here or by calling 8291 2000.