As an Internet attorney, I get complaints all of the time from prospective clients who have either written something bad online about another party or have been on the receiving end of a negative review on some website. The words defamation, slander, and libel are tossed about freely accompanied by demands to do something about the underlying dispute.
Unlike many countries, the free speech is constitutionally protected in the United States. Along with the good comes the bad. It really depends on whose ox is being gored as to whether one is promoting free speech online or demanding censorship. Your Internet attorney can discuss with you in detail why truthful statements (no matter the harm they might cause) are generally protected against defamation claims in U.S. courts. The same cannot be said in places like the United Kingdom.
Even with free speech rights, some aggrieved individuals will still try to sue the other person into retracting statements made. In a recent case, a small Chicago concrete company sued a woman for $10,000 because she wrote a negative review of the company on a website. If what she wrote is the truth, there is little chance the company will win a suit for defamation even if the words hurt the business. To learn more, you can watch a video about this Internet defamation case.
Does this mean you should “get even” with people by writing nasty stuff about them on the Web? Of course not.
If you’ve decided that online reviews are the way to pay back some wrong, check with an Internet attorney before posting content. Where emotions are involved, some people do cross the line. And if you’re sued, your Internet attorney can refer you to a good defamation litigator to take care of the matter in court. Remember that trial attorney skills are a specialty.