Defamation on a review website
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How to respond to defamation on a review website
There are various strategies to handle negative online reviews. Whichever strategy you choose, it needs to be right for you, for your business and for the circumstances of the review.
One rule which applies to all those who may find themselves in this situation, is that you should not rush a reply to a negative online review. You need to consider your response to a defamatory review carefully, and never post anything in haste. If you are considering posting a reply to a defamatory online review, always take the time you need to draft your response carefully and to consider how the reviewer, your potential customers and your staff might view your response and what they might take from it.
Sometimes a response to a defamatory online review, which had not been thought through, could cause more reputational damage than the review itself. Bear in mind that in many cases, posters of defamatory online reviews, do believe that the information they have posted is truthful and lawful, even when it is not. In some cases, the perception of reality of the poster of a defamatory online review might be completely different to the reality as seen and experienced by you. As a business owner, you do not know in most case much about the reviewer, about her mindset, her state of mind or even her mental health condition. Therefore, take your time to formulate your response carefully and sensitively.
As human beings, our initial response to negativity tends to be emotional. If you respond to a defamatory online review with anger or with frustration, you and your organisation could suffer adverse long-term consequences, such as needlessly upsetting the reviewer or prolonging the process of having the defamatory online review taken down. A wrong response to a defamatory review could make a bad situation worse so it is important to address the real issues that have caused the reviewer to post an online review in the first place.
It might be anger, frustration, disappointment or perhaps spite that drove the online reviewer to post a defamatory review. And in each case, you will need to consider what would be the best strategy and method to address those causes. You might be able to work this out by reading the defamatory online review a few times and by carrying out a little online search about the reviewer. Try to add up the dots and to understand who you are dealing with and what their underlying motivation is. In many cases, people do things for reasons that are not so obvious from the outset.
In some cases, it would be a good idea to respond to defamation on a review website review but in other cases this might be a mistake. For example, if you believe that the reviewer has posted an online review out of spite, there might be a way by which you can show internet users that they should not pay much attention to the defamatory review, by posting a reply that will show that the review does not make sense or that the only conclusion one could come to, from reading it, is that it is untruthful.
You might be able to do so without having to enter into an endless and pointless confrontation with the reviewer but just by pointing out to a one or two obvious facts or inaccuracies or even impossibilities within the review. In many cases, it would be better to provide a response, because this will demonstrate to internet users that your organisation is highly responsive. The answer to the questions of how to respond and to how much detail to go into with your response, would depend on each and every case. There is another reason why you should consider your response to online defamation or to a negative review very carefully.
Naturally, if you are facing defamation on a review website, you would want to keep any reputational damage caused by the online review to the minimum. Therefore, you would want to avoid making any contribution to the public exposure of the defamatory review. Like fuel added to the fire, each time that a post is added to an online review, it boosts the strength of the original review in the eyes of the search engine, making it more likely to appear first when internet users look your company up. Before responding to defamatory reviews, remember that whatever you post, may have a huge impact on your organisation’s long-term reputation. Whatever you decide to do, avoid taking gambles. Before responding to a bad review, consider obtaining support or professional advice to ensure that matters can be resolved swiftly.
If you decided to post a reply to a defamatory online review, try to avoid entering into a never-ending online dialogue with the reviewer. Make your point and leave it at that. Invite the reviewer to contact you directly for further discussions but under no circumstances, you should turn the online review platform into a battle ground. Try to get the focus back on your products, your services and your website and do what you can to bring negative communications to an end as quickly as possible.