by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
defamation, reviews, section 230


Threatened Lawsuit Against TripAdvisor Sounds More Like PR Campaign For 'Reputation Manager'

from the reading-between-the-lines dept

A bunch of folks have sent in variations on this story of the guy who runs an online "reputation management" company and is very publicly threatening to sue travel review site TripAdvisor under the legal theory of "group defamation." No lawsuit has actually been filed, and any such lawsuit would be a total dead end and waste of time and money for the "reputation management" firm. That's because TripAdvisor is a US company, and thus it is clearly protected from defamation lawsuits on the content written by its users by Section 230. And while this reputation management firm is in the UK, thanks to the US's new libel tourism law, any judgment in the UK would be unenforceable.

In other words, the legal threats are completely bogus. Having read through the various articles covering it, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is really just a PR campaign for the "reputation management" company, who I won't even bother to name, as it doesn't deserve any additional press coverage for threatening such a useless lawsuit.

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  • identicon
    Bien and Robinson, 13 Sep 2010 @ 12:54pm

    This is why...

    "TripAdvisor claims that they are not responsible for user generated content - but claims ownership of all posts."

    "TripAdvisor has singled out businesses and directly advised consumers not to trust them - even when the majority of their own posters recommend these businesses."

    "TripAdvisor overstates the level of trust that can be placed in an individual review on their site. They are thus directly seeking to influence consumer opinion."

    "TripAdvisor has failed to take appropriate action when offered evidence of falsehoods - thus removing their blanket disclaimer defense."

    I really don't know that the companies have a basis to sue on the above claims. To a great degree--the magnanimity that comes with the internet tends to protect entities from comments that are made from external users. I don't see this lawsuit actually happening. But it's an interesting flip-side to see this--possibly--being used as a marketing tool.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Joe, 5 Aug 2011 @ 3:18pm

      Re: This is why...

      Tripadvisor has been banning bloggers who desk ill of hotels on sites such has priceline. TA makes money off these sites and does not want anyone steering clients away

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    FDee (profile), 13 Sep 2010 @ 2:31pm

    There is no doubt that false reviews are a huge problem. We have been victims of a horrible attack by an online reputation management company or so they call themselves. There is no legal premise and yes a waste of time unless CDA 230 is appealed. It could of couse be a pubicity stunt as you said either way a waste of time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Phil (profile), 14 Sep 2010 @ 8:03am

    Why TripAdvisor is at Fault

    TA recently sent out an email to members with a list of hotels and some well-chosen stinky reviews (not all representative of the hotels in question) with the headline "Don't go there. Hotel Horror Stories!. It is this endorsement of the reviews and the recommendation by TA that people should not go to the hotels that has opened the way to a possible suit.

    The KwikChex case against TripAdvisor

    TripAdvisor has long taken a high-handed attitude when dealing with owners who have legitimate complaints. Here's another current example:

    TripAdvisor FINALLY comes clean over disappearing reviews.

    It's about time TripAdvisor were taken down a peg or two. Once they have been told that a review contains false information then they SHOULD take down the offending part or face the consequences - the law as it stands is loaded too heavily in the favour of hosting sites.

    This may not come to court, by the way - as I understand it, KwikChex and the owners would rather they simply reform their ways and play fair when unfair - and especially fake - complaints are made against hotels etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joe, 5 Aug 2011 @ 3:20pm


    Sorry. Speak ill of TA

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sprearson81 (profile), 10 Jun 2012 @ 8:59am

    TA is another scurge of humanity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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