Lawsuit targets online review
Gutter King case raises issues of privacy, defamation in posts.
When it comes to reviewing businesses on sites such as Google Places, Trip Advisor and Yelp, be truthful, attorneys say, or it could cost you.
Though many who post online believe their true identities are secret, a lawsuit filed this month in Travis County — one of many popping up across the country — is an ongoing example that anonymity could go away when someone is accused of making false or potentially libelous statements.
The owner of Austin Gutter King says his gutter installation business was defamed — and potential customers may have been driven away — by a bogus Google Places post.
The suit indicates that the post, which has been removed, came from someone connected to another local gutter company, Austin Gutterman.
Austin Gutterman did not respond to an email message from the American-Statesman. Reached by telephone, an employee said the business declined to comment.
A person with the username “Norma Lee” wrote the post, claiming to be affiliated with a “small firm that conducts research into fraudulent customer reviews posted by shady businesses.” It accused Austin Gutter King of writing “falsified positive reviews,” the suit says.
“While researching the source of numerous online posts related to this merchant we found that a high percentage of the postings source back to the same block of network addresses,” Norma Lee wrote. “It is HIGHLY unlikely