Social business do or don’t? Suing customers for negative online posts
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Last night I was on Fox Chicago News to discuss an investigative report regarding the use of social media. A Chicago-based plastic surgeon, upset about negative remarks made about him on Yelp and Citysearch, identified the posters via their IP addresses. The physician then sued three of them for $100,000 each for making false and defamatory statements. He can’t go after Yelp or Citysearch because they are protected by a federal law that does not allow websites to be sued over third-party postings.
This is not the first time a physician has sued for defamation because of unflattering or negative online comments. At the time this post was published, none have won. While I obviously don’t have all the facts, it doesn’t appear as though the physician (or a spokesperson) responded to any of the negative (or positive) online comments. It seems the most recent communication between the physician and former patients has taken place through the legal system.
Let’s take a step back and examine this from a public relations perspective. If this physician was your client and you identified the negative online comments, how would you advise he respond?
SCENARIO 1: If you agree with the decision to sue the consumers for defamation, why?
SCENARIO 2: If you think the suing the consumers wasn’t the right decision, what would you advise? Why?
SCENARIO 3: Do nothing. Say nothing.
SCENARIO 4: Make amends with the patients. Figure out what went wrong and fix it.
OTHER: Insert your own ending.
Let us know if you think this is a “do” or “don’t” in the comments.
You can view the segment, here: