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Tips on getting bad info off a site or blog
Depending on how much damage this review is causing and your financial circumstances, some of these might work.
Most of this assumes that this is all taking place in the US or otherwise in the same country. Were it the same state, that would even be better.
1. A blog/site owner that allows people to post things and does NO editing is very difficult to sue. If the owner or staff EDITS the blog, if they exercise any control over the content (like a newspaper) then they can be sued.
2. Have an attorney write a cease and desist letter. Explain to the blog owner that even if they can mount a defense, the owner is going to be spent into bankruptcy. Explain that the failure to remove the untrue information after the previous requests establishes legal malice and opens the way for punitive damages. DMCA is not a free pass for everything.
3. Is your business name being used in the blog. Get a TRADEMARK on your name, and then demand the post be removed for trademark infringement. There is nothing that protects the blog or site from a federal civil action for trademark infringement. Of course, it is $300 and takes awhile. Using a company name in a blog is fair use generally, but there are exceptions to that. Fair use is a defense that has to be raised in a civil action and proven.
4. Something many people overlook are state trademarks. State trademarks are granted quickly and cost anywhere from $10 to $100 depending upon the state. Get a trademark in the state where the site owner resides and then do the cease and desist order based on state trademark law and the registration there. Also, if you really go to court it will be easier and cheaper in state court.
5. Buy the site or buy off the blog owner. If it is a site, do it thru a third party otherwise the owner will try to bleed you if they know the true motive.
6. Review sites that publish the reviews of third parties generally can NOT be sued and have immunity under federal law. They often offer an opportunity to respond to a bad review for a price. Some sites charge for it to be removed. Although you can't sue the website company, you can sue the original poster. You can force the site to identify the posters IP address and then make the ISP identify the customer.
7. If you win a judgment against the poster, chances are the review site still will not remove the review. If the site allows the poster to remove a review, that is the ideal situation. Otherwise, you can use the court order to get the search engines to remove the review page from their indexes.
ADT settles fake online review suit with FTC
(03-13-14) -- Much like the recent actions taken by the New York Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has been cracking down on fake online review practices. According to the FTC’s Product Endorsement and Testimonial Guidelines, it is a violation of the FTC Act where advertisers use testimonials if they are not accompanied by generalized information describing what consumers can hope to expect from use of the product or service. Moreover, the Product Endorsement and Testimonial Guidelines make clear that advertisers are prohibited from using endorsements from consumers if they have not actually used the product in question or make claims about the product without the advertiser having adequate proof of the truth of those assertions. This week, the FTC settled a case against ADT LLC (“ADT”), one of the biggest providers of home security systems, for allegedly misrepresenting that paid endorsements provided by safety and technology experts were independent and impartial reviews.
ADT’s Fake Online Review Case Details
The FTC alleged that ADT engaged in commissioning numerous fake online reviews appearing on blogs and other online media, as well as others that ran on television and radio. According to the FTC, ADT’s fake reviews were intentionally misrepresented to consumers as being independent third party reviews and failed to adequately disclose that the endorsements were paid for by ADT. Prior to settling the case, the FTC learned that ADT paid more than $300,000 to three (3) experts that endorsed its products.
According to the FTC’s Director of Consumer Protection, Jessica Rich, “[i]t’s hard for consumers to make good buying decisions when they think they’re getting independent expert advice as part of an impartial news segment and have no way of knowing they are actually watching a sales pitch.”
ADT Fake Online Review Settlement
According to the FTC’s website, the proposed settlement order, which will be finalized after being subject to public comment for thirty (30) days (until April 7th, 2014), imposes the following penalties upon ADT:
prohibits ADT from misrepresenting that any discussion or demonstration of a security or monitoring product or service is an independent review provided by an impartial expert;
requires ADT to clearly and prominently disclose, in connection with the advertising of a home security or monitoring product or service, a material connection, if one exists, between an endorser and the company; and
requires that ADT promptly remove reviews and endorsements that have been misrepresented as independently provided by an impartial expert or that fail to disclose a material connection between ADT and an endorser.
The proposed settlement with ADT is only a small part of the FTC’s massive crackdown on fake online reviews.
FTC: Online check-writing service not authenticating users
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed a civil contempt complaint against an online check-writing service, saying the company continues to allow customers to create and e-mail checks without verification of their identities.
Even after a January court order requiring Thomas Villwock, James M. Danforth and G7 Productivity Systems to implement fraud prevention safeguards at online check-writing service Qchex.com, the defendants continue to operate a "nearly identical" operation at FreeQuickWire.com, the FTC said in a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.
The defendants are "engaged in business as usual" FreeQuickWire.com, even though the court in January issued an injunction and said their business model could help customers engage in fraud by stealing funds from unsuspecting people's bank accounts, the FTC said.
The FTC has asked the court to impose fines of US$10,000 a day or send the defendants to prison, for their "utter disregard" of the January order.
Qchex.com created and delivered checks without verifying that users had authority to access the accounts referenced on the checks, the FTC said. Fraudsters worldwide drew checks on the accounts of unwitting third parties and used the checks mainly for wire transfer schemes, the agency alleged.
Messages left through the Qchex and FreeQuickWire Web sites were not immediately returned.
Qchex, however, has appealed the January court order. The FTC doesn't have the authority to write consumer protection laws, the company said in a July court filing.
Qchex is also not responsible for the actions of its users, the company argued. "The Qchex system consisted of nothing more than software and a website, sitting dumb and inactive unless and until a user chose to use it," the company said in its appeals brief. "Unfortunately, some of the Qchex users created Qchex checks with stolen consumer information -- an unlawful act that occurred prior to and completely separate and apart from use of the Qchex system. It is this unlawful activity that is the cause of any consumer injury here."
In January, the court found the defendants' operation an illegal unfair business practice and ordered them to pay $535,358, which represented all of their profits from the operation. The court also ordered the defendants to implement specific fraud-prevention safeguards for any check creation and delivery service they offer.
In the current contempt action, the FTC alleges that the defendants have failed to perform any of the authentication procedures required by the earlier court order. The other contempt defendants are iProlog and FreeQuickWire, which Villwock and Danforth control. The court has ordered the contempt defendants to appear in court on Feb. 16.
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