Social media helps keep people connected. It can turn everyday individuals into overnight celebrities when their content goes viral. Many people eventually start chasing clout online, eager to develop a platform and build a following.
Social media has also benefited businesses by helping them market directly to certain types of consumers. Unfortunately, consumers can sometimes do real harm to local businesses on social media. The way that people comport themselves on social media can sometimes lead to defamation against a business that causes real harm.
Not all bad reviews are defamation
Online defamation confuses many people. There are some individuals who alleged that even leaving a one-star review would constitute defamation, but that is not automatically true.
Negative reviews are sometimes justifiable if someone honestly describes a negative experience. However, when people start exaggerating and using hyperbole to describe the situation, as those bringing their grievances to social media are wont to do, the half-truths that they share online might meet the legal definition of defamation.
When someone shares false and misleading information about a business with a large audience online and that complaint or negative review leads to a backlash against the company, the misrepresentation of the business’s practices could meet the legal definition of defamation.
The affected business may have the option of taking legal action against the poster or reviewer. In some cases, the goal might simply be to remove negative reviews or viral complaint videos. Other times, businesses might actually seek damages because the online defamation impacted company finances. Monitoring online activity can help companies identify and fight back against social media defamation.