When Online Reviews Are Business, Don't Be Surprised When Businesses Take Action Against Libel

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Ever wondered where the line is between a disgruntled, fake review and cold, hard, libel? There's an interesting story in The SEM Post about just that.

A couple gets a lawyer for a divorce. Whatever happens next, the couple isn't happy. So they take to Yelp and "other online review sites," and express their feelings. Unfortunately, they also start making up things to make the service seem worse than it actually was. They tried to say that their lawyer switched documents to charge them four times as much as the original estimate, which they later admitted in court was a lie. The judge ruled it libel and the couple now has to pay a stunning $350,000. Bet they wish that they'd kept their mouths shut!

"On appeal, Blake and Birzon [the couple] argue that their internet reviews constituted statements of opinion and thus were protected by the First Amendment and not actionable as defamation..." but, as the article goes on to say, it pretty much fits like a puzzle piece into the definition of libel.

Maybe sit down and have a drink, take a few breaths, and read a book before leaving your next online review!