How Far Should Ebay Go To Protect Sellers' Reputations?
from the to-the-courts dept
The ability to check the reputation of a participant in an online auction is an important part of what makes auctions on eBay work. Actually, it’s important in all transactions, but in a decentralized system such as eBay’s, the ability to manage reputations is of particular significance to both the company and the sellers. So it’s understandable that when a seller feels he has been improperly maligned from buyer feedback would be upset, particularly if it caused on observable drop in seller’s auction prices. Such is the case of one seller, who after receiving a negative comment, went through the court system to get the comment removed. This is actually the course of action that eBay wants its users to take. Although the first court issued a ruling to have the review taken down, eBay found the ruling to be vaguely worded, and didn’t act on it. Next he sued eBay itself, though that action was dismissed; the law is pretty clear that the provider of a platform is not liable for what users post on it. But while there’s no obligation of liability on eBay’s part, what does it say about the company that they have developed no mechanisms to deal with this situation, other than asking its users to go through the long and expensive process of legal action? Considering how central the maintenance of reputation is to the eBay ecosystem, shouldn’t they try to develop mechanisms that mitigate this problem? Perhaps an official third-party arbiter could be used to resolve these issues. After all, it’s well known that there are plenty of unhinged eBay users out there, who have the potential to seriously disrupt the orderly flow of commerce. If eBay doesn’t try to solve this problem, then its value as a place for doing auctions will slowly decrease.