All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.
keeping you and your family safe
Consumers are becoming increasingly dependent on social media to help them make purchasing decisions. Social media feedback about a product or business can have a significant impact on consumer decisions. A 2011 Harvard Business School study showed that a business improving its Yelp rating by just one star increased its revenue between 5% and 9%. Businesses realize this and some try to manipulate the process for profit. Writing or encouraging fake positive reviews for your own business is called "astroturfing" because social media reviews are supposed to be grass roots and astroturf is fake grass. A 2015 Harvard Business School study estimates that 16% of restaurant reviews on Yelp are fake. This includes false positive reviews and fake negative reviews by competitors. The problem is so rampant that businesses have sprung up that will astroturf for you for a price. In New York, 19 of these companies were caught and fined more than $350,000 and had to agree to stop astroturfing.
Consumer activity on social media is tracked by websites like Facebook that have algorithms analyzing your posts and viewing habits. This is why you see ads for products you looked at online on other websites. You are being tracked. If you want to do something about tracking, see the Privacy Settings page of this website.
Social media has also made is easier and more efficient for businesses to market their products and services directly to consumers. This is leading to an increase in consumer crimes when businesses make false promises, run contests and sweepstakes, and make misrepresentations over social media.
Legal action against businesses who violate consumer laws is often helped by social media. Deceptive trade practices on social media leave a record of advertisements and promises. Unconscionable actions and breaches of warranty are easier to prove when social media provides documented evidence in the case. If large numbers of consumers fall victim to deceptive trade practices, class action lawsuits can add considerable weight to the case.
Both federal and state laws protect consumers from misdeeds at the hands of merchants. The Federal Deceptive Trade Practices Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) and its state equivalents, protect consumers against false, misleading, and deceptive business practices, unconscionable actions, and breaches of warranty. While the statutes do not create causes of actions themselves, they provide an efficient means through which consumers can be compensated for improper acts by merchants. While there are some differences between federal and various state acts, in general they require the party at fault to pay the other party's damages, attorney's fees, and costs. In some cases they provide for awards up to three times economic damages and three times mental anguish damages. Other laws can be tie-in statutes that allow consumers to get DTPA awards even though the original law does not call for them. The DTPA and its state equivalents are powerful ways for consumers with few resources to hold irresponsible merchants accountable for wrongdoing. Please note that these laws are complex and results can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of each case. Always consult a licensed attorney for specific legal advice on your consumer law case.