Attorneys & Professionals
No company today is immune from negative reviews on websites such as My3Cents.com. In fact, My3Cents.com has received an aggregate 2.2 star rating (out of 5) on its own website.
Certainly, negative online reviews may be rooted in fact and are not necessarily actionable. But, many online reviews on websites such as My3Cents.com are false and defamatory – despite the website, like many others, prohibiting such content.
In fact, according to My3Cents.com’s Terms & Conditions, reviews that are “unlawful, harassing, libelous, defamatory, threatening, harmful, vulgar, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, racially offensive, or inaccurate material of any kind or nature …” are not allowed. Stated differently in the Site Rules: “When submitting content to My3cents whether in the form of reviews, editorials, comments, ratings or your profile page the following are inappropriate: … Defaming a third party.”
Impersonation of another party (e.g. a consumer) is also prohibited, but that does not stop many disgruntled parties from posing as customers and writing harmful fake reviews.
Defamation removal from My3Cents.com
My3Cents.com “reserves the right” to remove any postings from the website. Specifically, the website’s Terms state that it is “in its sole discretion” to remove a post that the website (its operators) becomes aware of and determines to have violated one of the site’s guidelines.
As such, a business harmed by a false and defamatory My3Cents.com review should consider drafting a letter/email to the website detailing the falsities of the review and demonstrating the rules the author violated by publishing the review on the website.
My3Cents.com also encourages subjects of reviews to post a public response, but it would be unwise to stop there. Posting a public response is unlikely to hurt, especially if an existing or potential customer takes the time to read the comments at the bottom of a review. But a business should not bet on that, and that does not change the fact that a harmful review can still rank highly in search results, notwithstanding the business setting the record straight.
In addition to contacting the website directly (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org), a business may also wish to issue a subpoena to the website for personally identifying information. A user is asked to provide a name, email address, city and state before submitting a review, although the email address is the only information that is verified.
Unfortunately, many bad actors who post defamatory reviews online are now taking additional steps to conceal their identities, including using proxy server networks. My3Cents.com does, however, “reserve the right to remove any reviews posted through proxy networks.” Thus, a subpoena that reveals an author of a review used a proxy can lead to potential deletion from the website as well.