Online Reviews

News & Analysis as of

Controversial California Court Decision Significantly Narrows a Crucial Liability Safe Harbor for Website Operators

A recent California court decision involving Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is creating considerable concern among social media companies and other website operators....more

Final Order against Practice Fusion Approved by FTC

On August 16, 2016, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the final order resolving its privacy complaints against Practice Fusion. The complaint alleged that Practice Fusion “misled consumers by soliciting reviews for...more

Advertising Law - August 2016 #2

Electric Toothbrushes Battle It Out Before NAD - In a battle over electric toothbrushes, the National Advertising Division determined that Procter & Gamble can support superiority claims for its Oral-B models challenged...more

NAD Determines 5-Star Ratings Claims Unsubstantiated

The advertising industry’s self-regulatory arm, the National Advertising Division (“NAD”), recently reviewed certain advertising messages made by Vapore, LLC. In both television and internet advertising, Vapore claimed that...more

Non-Party Yelp Ordered to Remove Defamatory Reviews

In 2012, attorney Dawn Hassell represented Ava Bird for a period of 25 days related to a personal injury she suffered. Bird expressed dissatisfaction with the representation and Hassell withdrew from the representation....more

Report Warns Providers of HIPAA Violations When Responding to Negative Online Reviews

ProPublica, a public interest investigative newsroom, recently identified more than 3,500 one-star medical reviews on Yelp in which patients complained about privacy issues. ProPublica determined that “in dozens of instances,...more

More Guidance for Advertisers and Influencers to Navigate Online Reviews and Endorsements

Late last week, the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (“ICPEN”) published three sets of guidelines covering online reviews and endorsements. Why does this matter? ICPEN is an informal network of...more

Disgruntled Online Reviews of Attorney by Disgruntled Former Client Ordered Removed from Yelp.com

The Court of Appeal of the State of California – First Appellate District in Hassell v. Bird (6/7/16 – Case No. A143233) affirmed an order from a judgment in favor of an attorney and her firm and against a disgruntled former...more

Rejecting First Amendment And Communications Decency Act Arguments, California Appellate Court Affirms Order Requiring Non-Party...

In a published decision filed on June 7, 2016 in Dawn Hassell v. Ava Bird, Case No. A143233, the Court of Appeals for the State of California, First Appellate District, determined that the trial court’s order requiring Yelp...more

Negative Online Reviews: The Best Defense

A recent Washington Post article examined the issue of patient privacy complaints after medical providers responded to negative Yelp® reviews about medical care. The issue of how a professional can (or should) respond to...more

Non-Disparagement, The Magna Carta And Yelp

Disparagement isn’t what it used to be. In the good old days, disparagement meant a marriage to a social inferior. The word itself is derived from the Old French word Old French, desparagier, meaning to degrade. The...more

Pitfalls in Managing Online Reputations

Whether you represent sports stars and high-profile entertainers, or hometown doctors, architects, and restaurateurs, you have almost certainly gotten calls in the past several years asking for your help in dealing with...more

Study Finds Widespread HIPAA Violations Occurring on Yelp

It is no secret that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a trap for the unwary. A recent study by the non-profit ProPublica has uncovered that the online review site Yelp (as well as other...more

Don’t Worry, Be (Un)Happy: Does U.S. Labor Law Protect a Worker’s Right to a Bad Attitude?

A few months ago, we noted that a Yelp employee’s online “negative review” of her employer might be protected activity under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), given that the National Relations Labor Board (NLRB) has...more

EU Retail News - May 2016

UK: How to comply with consumer protection laws — are you faking it? On 4 March 2016, the UK Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") published guidance for businesses on how to comply with consumer protection law...more

Socially Aware: The Social Media Law Update Volume 7, Issue 3

How To Protect Your Company’s Social Media Currency - Today’s companies compete not only for dollars but also for likes, followers, views, tweets, comments and shares. “Social currency,” as some researchers call it, is...more

Negative Reviews? Call A Lawyer – But Maybe Not Right Away

In our increasingly narcissistic culture, not only is everyone a critic, but everyone thinks their opinion is of the utmost importance. Smartphones permit us to instantaneously inform everyone of our day-to-day activities via...more

A Negative Review May Be Protected Activity Under U.S. Employment Law

Yelp, Inc. is more accustomed to being on the giving—rather than the receiving—end of a negative review. That changed recently when a Yelp customer service employee, Talia Ben-Ora, posted an open letter to Yelp’s CEO on her...more

News of Note for the Internet-Minded – 3/9/16

A virtual reality refresher course; Google and privacy concerns; Snapchat visits the dugout; WeChat has some homework for Chinese student; and more…...more

German Federal Supreme Court specifies monitoring duties of online rating portals

In a Judgment dated 1 March 2016, case no. VI ZR 34/15, the German Federal Supreme Court (“FSC”; Bundesgerichtshof – BGH) specified the scope of monitoring duties of an online rating portal for medical professionals in...more

Won’t You Please, Please Yelp Me?

Yelp, I need somebody - Yelp, not just anybody - Yelp, you know I need someone - Yelp! My apologies to the Beatles. But the notion that one can’t do it alone and expect to be protected, may just be an apt moral in today’s...more

NAD Decision Addresses Endorsements from Product Testers

This week, the NAD published a decision involving an infomercial for the Shark Rocket DeluxePro vacuum. Although the decision covers several issues – including comparative claims, product demonstrations, and consumer...more

Defamation: Internet Crisis Control

Arriving at his warehouse last week Knott Faire, owner of Faire Carpet Cleaning, discovered yet another complaining critique posted on WELP: “Lots of hype, a mediocre cleaning and a hassle at the end. Don’t get tied up with...more

Congress Acts to Ban Gag Clauses in Consumer Contracts

There is not a lot that all members of the U.S. Senate can agree on these days, but protecting the ability of consumers to write reviews of businesses is apparently an issue on which there is unanimity. First some background....more

Amazon Pursued Fake Reviews In 2015, What Will It Pursue In 2016?

In 2015, Amazon filed suit against over 1,000 unnamed individuals for allegedly offering to sell fake online reviews (positive or negative) on Fiverr.com (“Fiverr”). The unnamed defendants offer to provide 5-star reviews and...more

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