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Old 04-30-2012, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
16,772 posts, read 43,257,229 times
Reputation: 9351

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An article in the AAS this morning reports that Austin Gutter King is sueing Google to disclose the identity of someone who posted a negative review of the company.

Austin company files suit over customer's negative online review

Quote:
Attorneys for the gutter installation company are hoping to force Google to reveal Norma Lee's true identity. Then, according to the U.S. District Court filing, they will probably sue her for making claims that are "false, fraudulent and defamatory."
I personally do not want to do business with a company that pursues tactics such as this.

Edit: In this case the company is claiming that the reviewer made claims that AGK was posting false positive reviews. But what is to keep them from attacking any negative review as "false, fraudulent and defamatory" ?

Or suing City-Data to discover your identity because you wrote something unfavorable about a company here?
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Old 04-30-2012, 12:09 PM
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Location: Ohio
17,032 posts, read 34,497,400 times
Reputation: 14172
Quote:
Originally Posted by CptnRn View Post
Or suing City-Data to discover your identity because you wrote something unfavorable about a company here?
It shouldn't be an issue, since members can't post something unfavorable about a company here. From the TOS:

Quote:
This is not the right place for consumer complaints. Such posts present defamation issues and they don't give the other side the opportunity to present their side of the argument.
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Old 04-30-2012, 01:15 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
16,772 posts, read 43,257,229 times
Reputation: 9351
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bo View Post
It shouldn't be an issue, since members can't post something unfavorable about a company here. From the TOS:
Maybe it has been missed by the moderators, but I see it often.
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Old 04-30-2012, 01:19 PM
 
Location: Phoenix AZ
1,600 posts, read 2,021,216 times
Reputation: 2532
Streisand Effect, here we come!

Streisand effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 04-30-2012, 06:02 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
1,811 posts, read 2,321,345 times
Reputation: 1581
Of course you can be sued for defamation for things you say on the Internet. Doesn't mean that they'llwin, but if you're making statements in a public forum, you don't get to hide behind anonymity if you're going to trash somebody, whether it's a person or a business.

Who are we to know what's false and what isn't? The review claimed that the majority of positive reviews came from a similar block of network addresses. That is pretty curious, to me -- I don't know of any way to check the IP address of somebody making a Google review, and even if I did, given that it's a local business I would expect that there would be common network blocks.

If it were my business I'd do exactly the same thing.
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Old 05-01-2012, 07:40 AM
 
547 posts, read 1,282,571 times
Reputation: 439
CptRn, this issue may need further review before we jump to conclusions. I saw this on the local news last night.

I was disgusted by the headline too, but after learning more, it sounds like there is someone (possibly a competitor) writing fake reviews of AGK. I actually used this business for my own home and had a great experience, so I'm inclined to believe them. Going after people who write poor reviews is one thing, but trying to ascertain the identity of a competitor writing fake negatives is a little different in my view.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:42 AM
 
Location: Volcano
12,971 posts, read 24,942,797 times
Reputation: 10632
I think that in many instances online reviewing has gotten out of hand. Fake reviews are common now, as is gaming the systems. And the potential for damage to a small company's business from just one disgruntled customer or unscrupulous competitor is enormous. Meanwhile there hasn't been much court action on this problem so far, so it's hard to predict how this could go. I can see both sides.

But it does remind me that I've found online reviews to be extremely mixed in quality, and generally worth about what I paid for them... i.e., nothing.
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Old 05-01-2012, 08:52 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
1,811 posts, read 2,321,345 times
Reputation: 1581
All good points -- and that's why we have the court system. I think we all get a bitter and jaded because we are such a litigious society, but it's easy to forget that, sometimes, you have two sides to a dispute and a legitimate reason to go through discovery and fact-finding in court.

I'm pretty sure that astroturfing is against Google's TOS just as being purposefully deceptive or defamatory in a review is, so Google will probably nip this in the bud before it ever goes to court. Either Google will find that "Norma Lee" is correct (since Google does have the network addresses in question) and stand by the reviews, which will make AGK's job pretty tough, or they'll find that AGK was correct and that there's nothing unusual about the reviews. If for some reason Google doesn't do anything, the court will get to the bottom of it one way or another and lawyers will make money either way.

Businesses obviously have a huge interest in monitoring their reviews, and I agree that it's very easy (and tempting) for them to cross the line and "encourage" some excessive positive publicity. I would condemn any business that did so. But one shouldn't make the claim that they are unless one is damn sure of it.
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