Websites such as www.yelp.com and www.angieslist.com have been a breeding ground for novel legal issues. The sites are created for the very purpose of voicing concerns or praising services and encourage first amendment rights to free speech. However, one false post can cause a business an infinite amount of reputational harm and potentially ruin them. Legal scholars have been following case law on the topic closely to see how the courts deal with the legal implications of posting complaints online.
A recent case in Fairfax County Circuit Court, which was closely followed by media sources including the Washington Post, presented an interesting situation. The dispute arose when a Fairfax homeowner, disappointed in the work of her contractor, logged onto www.yelp.com and listed her disappointments with her contractor, ending with “Bottom line do not put yourself through this nightmare of a contractor.” The online comments from homeowner continued on multiple sites and the contractor, in response, posted his own comments online about the homeowner.