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Fake reviews, now what?

Increasingly, companies are being hit by fake negative reviews. Can this be done just like that? Find out what steps you can take as a company.

My company has received unfairly bad reviews, what to do?

Increasingly, businesses are falling victim to fake reviews on online platforms. People give negative reviews without any motivation or without ever having been customers. Such fake and unfounded reviews can cause significant damage, especially if your business has only a few reviews. From a legal perspective, a fake review is considered a tort.

Although it is easy to post reviews, unfortunately it often goes wrong. Anonymity, through fake profiles or otherwise, makes it easy for some people to post unfounded or even completely false reviews.

What to do if you fall victim to a fake review online?

Although the review policies of most websites seem strict on paper, there are limitations. Often, reviews are checked first and foremost for inappropriate content, such as spam, fake content, non-relevant content and so on.

Unfortunately, websites are not always quick to act when it comes to fake reviews. As a victim, you have to prove yourself that a review is untrue. How do you do that? It is a challenge in any case, because review websites often emphasise the reviewer's right to free speech and their bad faith must be proven. As a result, many incorrect reviews often remain online.

Why is it best to consult a lawyer?

There are some steps you can take against fake negative reviews:

  1. Always post a response: Respond to the negative review in a serene, understanding manner. Leave contact details so the complainant can get in touch personally.
  2. Report the fake review to the online platform: Report the review and choose the appropriate reason, such as "not relevant" or "spam". On some platforms, like Google for example, you can even click "Legal Help".
  3. Put the reviewer on notice: Try to reach the reviewer and politely ask them to remove the fake review. Threaten legal action if this does not happen.
  4. Legal action: Consider legal action, but be aware that this can be uncertain and costly.
  5. Proactively gather positive reviews: Have an active review policy in place to reduce the weight of a false review.
  6. Stay positive and put things in perspective: Don't let a negative review carry too much weight. A realistic view of your company can even increase credibility.

A lawyer can offer legal advice on fake reviews, assess their validity, identify necessary legal action and estimate the feasibility of a lawsuit. This is the best way to protect your company's reputation and rights. If necessary, lawyers can help the company initiate legal action, such as filing a lawsuit against the person(s) responsible for the fake reviews.

In short, dealing with fake reviews always requires patience, proactive measures and a positive attitude, but sometimes also the advice of a lawyer.

Can a customer just give a bad review?

Consumer rights and freedom of speech allow customers to share their sincere experiences and honest opinions about products or services, as long as they are based on facts. Such experiences and opinions about your company/product/service may not be grounds for legal action. A lawyer can help you assess this.

As a company, it is advisable to communicate openly with customers and welcome sincere feedback, both positive and negative. Proactive responses to legitimate customer concerns promote constructive dialogue and often solve problems. Sharing honest feedback thus contributes to a healthy consumer market and encourages companies to improve their services.

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