false accusations on social media

keeping you and your family safe

​​​​One of the most disturbing aspects of social media is that anyone, regardless of qualifications or knowledge, can make false accusations with ease. Equally disturbing is that a significant number of people believe what they read on the Internet as if it were always fact. A single negative rating or review or story about someone can disproportionately stain an otherwise sterling reputation. It can be incredibly difficult to counter false accusations on social media, but there are steps you can take.​​

When your reputation is attacked on social media, the key question to ask is, "what would be the most constructive way to respond?" It is common to feel angry and vengeful when attacked on social media, however a hasty and emotional response could make the situation worse and prompt a destructive social media feud. If the attack on your reputation is ridiculous and reasonable person would believe it, the best course of action could be to do nothing. If your reputation is truly suffers from the false accusations, the appropriate reaction could be a media response, confrontation, or legal action. It all depends on the situation and desired effect. 

Businesses must monitor their social media Reviews and Ratings for attacks on their social media reputations. Even if the comments are negative, a prompt and reasonable response could demonstrate good customer service and turn the interaction into a positive. What businesses should not do is attack back. Take the example of restaurant owners Amy and Samy Bouzaglo. They went on the television show Kitchen Nightmares and had a heated confrontation with the host. After the show aired, their restaurant received negative reaction on social media including one-star ratings on Yelp. The Bouzaglos decided to fight back on social media, calling their critics a bunch of nasty names. This only fueled the social media feud resulting in several days of escalating attacks and counter attacks. The Bouzaglos threatened to sue everyone who attacked them and told social media outlets that they could not spread the story. These were empty threats and only made them look more foolish. They later claimed their social media accounts were hacked, which made them look even more foolish. Their restaurant later shut down. 

If the right kind of appeal is made, social media websites and search engines may remove false accusations. However even when there is evidence that accusations are false, there is often reluctance to take action. Consider B&B owners Tim and Amelia Whitaker who say they got a fake review from somebody who never stayed with them. Google declined to remove the review forcing the Whitakers to take legal action. In the European Union, there is something called the Right to Be Forgotten. It gives people the right to have results linked to their name removed from search websites, if they "appear to be inadequate" or "irrelevant". Currently France is fighting with Google over what should be removed and where. The Internet is global so even if search results are removed in Europe, you can go to a website on another continent and get the information. That is what happened in the UK with a famous actor accused of sleeping with an infamous prostitute. A court in the UK issued a gag order preventing media outlets there from naming the actor. Despite this, the actor was named by websites in the United States which were easy to access from the UK.  

If false accusations amount to defamation causing the victim harm, a tort action could result in significant financial compensation from the perpetrator. Many jurisdictions also have specific laws giving legal recourse to victims of cyberbullyingcyberstalking, and cyberharassment. Always consider your options carefully and consult legal advisers before making these important decisions. 

For more options, see the Your Options page of this website or Contact Us.   

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.