By Aaron Minc on December 28, 2016
Citysearch.com is a website with long and deep roots on the Internet. The site has been active since the mid-1990s and has provided users with a means to comment on local businesses and restaurants.
While Citysearch has been eclipsed by some of its younger, larger rivals, the site still maintains a level of influence over consumers and potential clients. Citysearch allows users to vote and post reviews regarding the perceived quality of restaurants, salons, bars, spas, music venues, retail stores and many other locations.
Business owners recognize that false and defamatory reviews about their business can result in serious consequences including loss of business. While many reviewers are fair and take their community responsibility seriously, other reviewers act less admirably.
It is not unheard of for reviewers to unfairly and inaccurately characterize an experience for perceived minor slights or after having their request for special treatment rebuffed. Business owners who find that even good-faith efforts to resolve a dispute are unlikely to satisfy a reviewer who has mis-characterized an experience may find that they need to look into other options to protect their business.
The Internet defamation removal attorneys of Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis, LPA, can fight for business owners who have been unfairly attacked by reviewers on sites like Citysearch. We guarantee removal of the defamatory review or we will return your fee. To schedule a free, confidential consultation call 216-831-0042 or schedule a meeting online.
Citysearch lists a number of practices and acts that violate its Term of Use policies. The site prohibits the posting of any content that is “unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, indecent, defamatory, vulgar, profane, obscene, libelous, hateful or otherwise objectionable” and furthermore any content that “violates the standards of good taste.”
The site also prohibits making accusations of illegal activity by others. Therefore, user comments that accuse business owners of theft or other illegal activities may be removable. The site also prohibits users from describing physical altercations and sexual harassment allegations.
Aside from these forms of prohibited content, the site also bans postings that could be summed up as being misleading. For instance, the site prohibits reviews that impersonate another person. Therefore, multiple reviews and reviews where the poster pretends to be the business owner are not permitted on the site.
Likewise, multiple reviews posted by a single poster posing under false identities are also prohibited. Furthermore, postings of negative reviews by competitors purporting to be customers would also be removable under the site’s content policies.
Business owners understand that negative reviews and coordinated defamation campaigns on user review sites can seriously harm their business and profitability. Therefore, it is a common question for clients to wonder who they can hold liable for the damages they experienced.
As a starting point, you cannot hold Citysearch or other user-generated content platforms liable for defamation. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides website operators with broad immunity from liability. Lawsuits against the site itself are likely to be dismissed and may even trigger a countersuit.
However, business owners can theoretically hold the individual poster liable for the defamatory postings. That is, the individual poster does not receive protections or immunity from liability.
However, to be fair, while holding the individual poster liable for damages is theoretically possible, the business owner should ensure that the decision to pursue legal action beyond removal makes financial and business sense. Working with an Internet defamation removal lawyer can help you understand your potential options including whether you should take additional legal action.
Business owners can face extremely negative consequences when false reviews are posted online. These reviews can result in potential clients reconsidering working with the company or customers seeking a different restaurant, salon, bar, or other business. The Internet defamation removal lawyers of Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis LPA may be able to fight to remove the defamatory content and protect the reputation of your business. To schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation call 216-831-0042 or schedule a meeting online.