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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Online Defamation not unique problem for local and small businesses


It often seems that the issue of online defamation is confined to small businesses or to local and regional businesses.  Usually large national companies service so many individuals that it is inevitable to receive some negative publicity.  Online commentary, some of it negative, is viewed as a cost of doing business.  Traditionally, it is smaller businesses or more localized businesses that need to guard against negative online commentary because, since these businesses service fewer customers, negative comments reflect a larger proportion of clients.  Most businesses are less concerned about negative comments in 1 out of every 10,000 than they are about negative comments in 1 out of every 100 customers.

 However, as we have repeatedly noted on this blog, the power of the Internet and the power of social media is changing the traditional view.  Negative online comments are no longer simply an issue of numbers.  A single powerful negative review can be more damaging to a company than 1,000 less powerful comments.  The size of the company and its customer base is no longer a relevant consideration.  An article, printed on January 22, 2013 in the Washington Post, reports on “a challenge companies face with the growth of social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Before, someone in a far flung local in Australia would not be able to cause such a stir. But the power of social media means that negative posts about a company can spread from around the world in seconds.

The power of social media will only increase over the next few years.  Controlling online reputation has already become a vital matter of survival for businesses, regardless of size.  While it is impossible to put the proverbial “genie back in the bottle” and return to the pre-Internet days, businesses can take steps to ensure that they maintain a positive online presence which can bolster profitability and improve the quality of the business.

Since 1980, Gross & Romanick, P.C. has been representing businesses of all sizes and has been positioned at the intersections of law, business and technology.  We have been advising businesses on how best to protect themselves against abuses of technology and ensuring that their legal structure affords them the flexibility necessary to thrive as needs and demands change.  If you have business issue, please contact our office at (703) 273-1400 or email our managing partner, Edward Gross at law@gross.com.