In this time of social distancing, working from home and school closures, people and businesses are relying on the internet more than ever to engage with friends, family, clients, consumers and the public at large. Social media and content-sharing websites are providing individual communities and the entire nation with 24/7 accessibility to forums for public discourse, communication and the dissemination of news.
Earlier this month, we discussed the ways in which companies should navigate negative critiques and reputation management in the Age of Social Media. One option includes the pursuit of litigation, often demonstrated through claims for defamation. This course of action can typically be found in the context of a negative review: a company provides a service, customer is unhappy with the service, customer posts negative review about company online. In California, a company that wishes to claim said review has crossed a line must then prove (1) the customer made a false, defamatory statement concerning the company, (2) the customer made an unprivileged publication to a third party, (3) the publisher of the false statements acted at least negligently in its publication, and (4) the statement had a natural tendency to injure or cause special damage.