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The next time you write an online review, be careful. You might get sued.
That's what could happen to a Florida man who left a negative review about an Internet router he purchased. According to his Tuesday post on Reddit, where he's asking for legal advice, he received a letter from a law firm in Philadelphia threatening to sue him for an "illegal campaign to damage, discredit, defame, and libel" the company that makes the router.
"Your statements are false, defamatory, libelous, and slanderous, constitute trade libel and place Mediabridge and its products in a false light," the verbose letter from the law firm reads in part.
If the man doesn't take down his review within three days, cease all Internet conversation about the product, and agrees to never buy the company's products again, the law firm will sue him, according to the letter. But by going to Reddit and not keeping quiet, the man might have already sealed his fate.
Companies, it turns out, have every right to sue people who write reviews on websites that they may feel are libelous or defamatory.
While there is a level of legal protection that third-party websites (in this case, Amazon) have from being sued, which come from Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—the same section that protects websites that show revenge porn—the authors of those reviews are not protected.
The right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country and is commonly subject to limitations based on the speech implications of the harm principle including libel, slander, obscenity and pornography, sedition, hate speech, classified information, copyright violation, trade secrets, non-disclosure agreements.
"All of this is due to misinformation which was blown out of proportion by individuals on a social media site who acted first, before questioning whether the information they had was accurate or not," representatives of the company said in a statement. "This is the reality of this situation. Remember that there is a human aspect to this story."
Remember the Amazon shopper that was suddenly faced with the threat of a lawsuit after posting a negative review for a router? That shopper was vindicated on Thursday, shortly after the story of his predicament began to spread, as Amazon removed all Mediabridge products from their online store in response to the company’s explosive reaction to the review.
“It’s our sincere belief that reasonable people understand that not only is it within our rights to take steps to protect our integrity, but that it should be expected that we would do so when it is recklessly attacked,” Mediabridge stated on Facebook. “Unfortunately, as a result of our attempt to get this reviewer to do the right thing & remove his untrue statements about our company, Amazon has revoked our selling privileges. Many hard-working employees whose livelihood depended on that business will likely be put out of a job, by a situation that has been distorted & blown out of proportion.”
Ill share a tip: if you have a complaint about a company, say it on Twitter. It usually takes less than 20 minutes to hear back from them, and they usually are all too happy to give you free stuff to stop complaining
Woman Fined For Posting A Negative Review Online
(KUTV) For Christmas several years ago, Jen Palmer's husband ordered her a number of trinkets from the website Kleargear.com. But for 30 days, Kleargear.com never sent the products so the transaction was automatically cancelled by Paypal, Jen said.
Wanting an explanation, Jen says she tried to call the company but could never reach anyone. So frustrated, she turned to the internet writing a negative review on Ripoffreport.com.
"There is absolutely no way to get in touch with a physical human being," it says. And it accuses Kleargear.com of having "horrible customer service practices."
That was the end of it, Jen thought, until three years later when Jen's husband got an email from Kleargear.com demanding the post be removed or they would be fined. Kleargear.com says Jen violated a non-disparagement clause. It turns out that, hidden within the terms of sale on Kleargear.com there is a clause that reads:
"In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts Kleargear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees."
The clause goes on to say if a consumer violates the contract they will have 72 hours to remove your post or face a $3500 fine. If that fine is not paid, the delinquency will be reported to the nation's credit bureaus.