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removing internet defamation

Removing Defamatory Reviews from Websites like Yelp

By John DiGiacomo

But with the rise of these rating services comes a rise in fake and fraudulent reviews. Sometimes, disillusioned customers write a horribly hyperbolic or even flat-out false review; or, even worse, competitors write reviews that inaccurately rate their competition. Luckily for victims of these practices, these websites offer ways to remove false posts.

How to get a false review removed from Yelp

Business owners with Yelp pages can report abusive, false, or suspected fraudulent posts by contacting Yelp directly, using this page. Yelp employs their own moderators to evaluate reports and determine if they have any merit. Of course, moderators have to ferret out illegitimate reports from business owners who just want to remove negative reviews.

When requesting removal of a review, it is important for the requestor to keep the request as objective as possible. A request to remove a review that states “I did not like . . .” will likely be unsuccessful, as that is someone’s opinion and cannot be proven false. However, if a reviewer posts hard facts (for instance, “the restaurant charged my card twice and never fixed it”) and those facts are false, the review is much more likely to be removed.

See this blog post with more details about what to include in a removal request.

If Yelp does not remove a negative review itself, it requires a court order recognizing a valid judgment in a defamation lawsuit in order to remove the review. This is a very expensive and time-consuming way to remove a review. To help the process along, business owners with disputed reviews on their Yelp pages should contact an expert Internet attorney to help navigate the process and deal with Yelp.

How to get a false review removed from TripAdvisor

A negative TripAdvisor review is even more damaging than a Yelp review, since TripAdvisor does not let business owners respond to reviews. On its Review Moderation page, TripAdvisor lays out the process for removing fraudulent reviews and defines fraudulent as “[a]ny attempt to mislead, influence or impersonate a traveler.” The page also warns of companies designed to generate and post fraudulent reviews, as well as successful litigation against such companies.

Business owners can submit removal requests to TripAdvisor on this page. Much like Yelp, TripAdvisor employs a team of moderators to parcel through these requests, and the more objective and specific the request, the greater the likelihood that the negative review will be removed. This also means that business owners should keep meticulous records, which will allow them to easily prove that specific complained about instances are false. This will help to quickly get the negative reviews removed from TripAdvisor.

Finally, like with Yelp, an expert Internet attorney can help to navigate this process.

Removing false reviews from other websites

For all other review websites, including those that do not have streamlined moderation units like Yelp and TripAdvisor, one who would like to remove false, fraudulent or defamatory content should visit the website’s Terms of Service page. Every website should have such a page, and if the website allows users to post comments, the Terms of Service should govern what kind of comments are forbidden. Generally, false and defamatory comments are considered violations of a website’s Terms of Service.

If so, the individual who would like the comment removed should email the webpage directly. Many Terms of Services (or Privacy Policies) will give a contact email address for such inquiries. The requestor should inform the website that a commenter has violated the website’s Terms of Service, and that their comment should be removed.

For help with this process, please contact one of our expert Internet Defamation Attorneys at 855-473-8474.

Check out the Revision Legal podcast on Making A Murderer for additional discussion on false Yelp reviews.

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