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How Not to Deal With Negative Online Reviews: Addressing Online Criticism in Light of Pending Federal Legislation on Non-Disparagement Clauses

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, the House of Representatives passed H.R.5111, better known as the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016. The Consumer Review Fairness Act is a bipartisan bill aimed at protecting consumers who criticize businesses online. More specifically, the legislation is aimed at prohibiting businesses from inserting language in...

Online Reviews: Ten Things You Should Know

Whether you like them or not, it is hard to ignore online reviews. For many businesses, online review pages and ratings are displayed prominently in Google and Bing searches. And many brick and mortar retail stores have “People Love Us on Yelp” stickers displayed on their doors or windows. Speaking...

FTC Sues Company Seeking to Prevent Customers’ Negative Online Reviews

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed suit in the Middle District of Florida against two companies and their principals over a “gag” clause aimed at preventing negative reviews. On Sept. 24, 2015, the FTC filed a complaint for permanent injunction and other equitable relief against Roca Labs, Inc.,...

Google, the United States and the EU ‘Right to Be Forgotten’: Strategies for Removing Harmful Google Search Results

In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that individuals have the right to ask Google to remove certain search results about them.  This “Right to Be Forgotten,” as it is popularly known, has led to nearly 290,000 removal requests and counting, with Google evaluating well over...

Google to Remove ‘Revenge Porn’ Images From its Search Results

It will not solve the problem. But Google is taking a positive step when it comes to revenge porn, hoping to mitigate the harm it is causing  victims, particularly women.  On Friday, a Google executive announced that the company will soon consider removal requests of the harmful images appearing in Google’s search...

Operator of ‘Revenge Porn’ Site Convicted in California

On Jan. 29, 2015 the FTC announced it had banned a Colorado man from operating “revenge porn” websites.  Just days later, on Feb. 2, a man was found guilty in the San Diego County Superior Court on 21 identity theft counts and six extortion counts in an unprecedented California case....

FTC Violations Prompt Man’s Ban from Operating ‘Revenge Porn’ Sites

On Thursday, Jan. 29, 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that a Colorado man will be banned–subject to final approval–from distributing nude photos and videos without the subjects’ consent.  This comes following an FTC investigation that resulted in allegations of two FTC Act violations.  According to the FTC complaint, Craig Brittain operated...

Businesses Must Not Unfairly Impact Online Reviews

Today, a business’s online reputation is a large component of how customers and potential customers perceive it.  Businesses must be aware of what customers are saying about them online and via social media. In other words, they must be reading online reviews.  Given the significance of online reviews these days,...

Misleading Review Websites: Beware of Disguised Paid Reviews, Content

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) mandates that material connections between endorsers and advertisers be disclosed. Yet there are countless misleading review websites out there, masking payments received in exchange for positive publicity. In April, we wrote about review-based websites branded as providing legitimate product information, but actually misleadingly promoting a...

Combating False Reviews: Beware of ‘Independent’ Review Website Scheme

When the New York attorney general’s office cracked down on 19 companies in September 2013 for false reviews, it sent a loud and clear message to many businesses. For others, the combined $350,000 in fines might have simply been a wakeup call to get more creative with their deceptive online advertising...