It’s illegal to ban honest reviews

Share This Page

Congress unanimously passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act to protect people’s ability to share in any forum their honest opinions about a business’ products, services, or conduct. Some companies had been using contract provisions – including their online terms and conditions – to threaten to sue consumers or penalize them financially for posting negative reviews or complaints. The new law makes that illegal.

FTC staff just issued Consumer Review Fairness Act: What Businesses Need to Know with to-the-point guidance on what the law means for your company.



I personally just take the good with the bad. But I know for sure a lot of my negative are bogus, from competitors, my ex- wife, etc. What kind of protection can you offer us for anonymous, bogus, negative, dishonest reviews?

You can't. People have to understand some of the comments come from the sources you listed.

That's not true at all. In the article linked above, FTC clearly says you can remove fake reviews.

When it comes to review sites I think negative review should never be permanently posted. The business and a consumer come together and resolve an issue the website should professionally take the lead and remove the negative review to edit it or remove it. Nothing should be permanent what it comes to negative issues. I was with a popular review reporting website for 15 years. And I felt that I had a way to do better

I’m going to allow businesses to post positive reviews as much as they want on the website is somebody wants to make a comment the person that posted the positive review gets to approve or decline any comments that make me posted on the positive review a business owner posted.

Businesses will be able to be in control of their reputation and that’s a good thing

I do not agree Stick. I do agree that business should be coordinating / negotiating with the consumer to try and get the negative item resolved and that is of course always good.

What I disagree with is that in some cases the resolution is not what it should be and in some cases the company pressures the consumer to remove it. In some rare instances there are veiled threats.

SO to say that all negative situations would go through this process is really not entirely correct because (as in my case) the company gave me only a placebo and now I am getting lawyers to review this situation.

What about social review sites that ban good reviews like YELP. They deliberately ban the good reviews so that businesses will buy their service.

People should be aware that Yelp is a scam and ignore it.

This works the way around as well. The ignore bad reviews.. not sure how to validate is the business is paying some kind of "advertising fee".

I respond to the reviews for the business I work for and Yelp only shows the negative reviews to force the owner of the motel to advertise with them. Yelp is deliberately pushing good review to the bottom and promoting bad reviews. That is blackmail and consumer fraud. When is the FTC going to go after them?

Yes, this is true! Yelp is a scam .. they have removed 6 of my legitimate 5 star reviews because I will not pay them for advertising. Yelp should be removed from the internet.

This is an excellent move that should bring a greater degree of fairness to the consumer. Now if only there would be action by the FCC towards the cable companies. Complaints do not go far since the cable companies have had their lobbyists on the job 24/7. When the FCC begins to demonstrate that they know who
they've been established to protect
maybe consumers will be heard.

The FCC has already taken action, you can use a satellite provider.

I posed a negative review of a roofing company on yelp and the company bribed yelp to remove it

That's how Yelp works, it's a scam. Post your review again, or have somebody else post it. At least you can cause the roofing company more money.

Yelp is nothing but Fake News.

GOOD to all consumer

tried to sue tampa general for false advertising for which they did with dates and time.FTC said i had no case and sent me to a medical site that has nothing to do with false advertising.JUST SHOWS HOW GOVERNMEMT HELPS ITS OWN AND SAYS TOO BAD LITTLE GUY EVEN IF YOUR A VETERAN.WAST OF TAX PAYER DOLLARS AS USUAL BECAUSE IT IS THE GOVERMENT AND THATS WHAT THEY DO! PLAIN AND SIMPLE! SAD!

In the case of comments posted about legal services, people may post negative (or factually inaccurate) reviews due to the outcome they wished, but the law does not support, and which may be a result of their misguided actions. To wit: angry that the case did not resolve in their favor. Due to the confidential nature of the business, the firm is constrained from divulging the facts to contest the posting. Trolls win.

As a paralegal trained in California I want to point out your post has some disinformation. Confidentiality only protects legal content, that is, the work a lawyer does for his/her client. It does not protect basic information about a case. Therefore, since confidentiality applies to both sides of the case, that is, both parties have to follow confidentiality, the review of one party-their information- can be contested by the other party without violating a confidentiality agreement. After all, they are just giving basic information, not the lawyer's work product!

My pool builder has a clause in their contract prohibiting buyers from posting a review. It says if we don’t remove the review we will be fined $3500 & if we won’t pay they will report us to all 3 credit bureaus. Will signed in April 2017. I posted a review based on their poor customer service & was notified by the builder that I had violated our contract. I did not read the contract in its entirety when we signed all of the paperwork, which I know is my bad, but that doesn’t change the fact that this law prohibits that from even being in the contract. Once they told me, I read the contract & let them know about the CRFA. They won’t budge & are now threatening legal action against me. I don’t want a legal battle but I do want to keep other consumers from having to deal with the 6 month headache that we did. I thought that was the point of this law.

everything I've read on this law is to counter sue for whatever they're suing you for. you can also file a complaint with the state AG and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who will fine them for violating this act. it's also probably advisable to contact the BBB.

I want to share my own story and are seeking for advice and help!!!

I wrote a bad, but honest, review on Zillow towards a real estate agent who helped me bought a co-op in queens NY. She sued me for defamation about half year ago and I have spent almost $10,000 hiring the lawyer to defend myself. However, it seems like there are more costly steps to go before my case will be ready to be sent to the judge. My lawyer contacted me today and informed me that, to continue my case under the condition to keep my review, I need to be prepared to spend more money. I have not too much money left, but I don't want to give up on fighting to keep my honest review.

Is my case protected by "Consumer Review Fairness Act"? If yes, how can I use it to protect myself?

Any advice would be highly appreciated!

Seven months ago I posted on facebook, my opinion what I felt was a general dissatisfaction of ongoing chronically subpar, poor musical selections, music that was boring and inappropriate for our type of dance. There was a retaliation laughed against me by a couple of DJs and a couple of popular dance studios. I was told I wasn't welcomed there any longer. They galvanized their sources to have me outed from dancing at these parties or locations. I've made attempts to apologize, make amends and ask for forgiveness but the olive branch was rejected. I was running a party back in those days myself, one of the DJs convinced the studio owner to stop my party and he reopened it under a different name on my night, thereby taking over my party.... this resulted in a loss of income for me. Rumors and vicious lies were spread about me and I've not been allow to partake in this particular dance circuit. Note, I did not speak badly, cursed, threaten or caused physical harm, no violence of any kind, to anyone. The is no reason whatsoever to be ostracized by here I am, all because of an honest review of their music. Do I have a legal recourse? Can I sue them for defamation of character, punitive damage, and force them to accept me back? Please help.

Where is it written in the Constitution huge Federal Bureaucracies can't help individuals, instead of simply aggregating complaints?
A complaint could be reviewed, and an official letter sent if there appears to be a law being violated. It could include a disclaimer to keep the private lawyas from getting • hurt in case they're worried about losing fees to the Gov.

So a MLM company that sells shampoos and “hair products” are constantly threatening users for posting their experiences with the products (hair loss, breakage, dried out hair, scabs, etc) and lots of stylists as well voicing concern and in return they have attorney send letters threatening lawsuits if they don’t retract the negative reviews online with a scripted letter stating they lied about their review, SO IS THAT LEGAL?

I recently filed a complaint with the FTC against a large computer peripherals manufacturer.. Can they sue me for doing that?

Direct sales beauty product company has products that have caused adverse reactions, one shares their story, experience, time line, and photos of before and after product use and gives negative review according to their truth, and the said company starts sending letters of cease and desist to those consumers sharing their story. Essentially threatening to be sued if the consumer does not take the posts down and publicly retract all said info even if it’s that’s person’s true experience and review. Can that company do that to the consumers or reps that have left the company due to said reactions that are sharing their truth regarding the product? What protection is there for the consumer in this case?

A company blackmailed me into verbal agreement on a recorded line that i wouldn’t post any negative reviews about them in order to get a refund which i was owed........can they get away with that??

I have posted reviews on FB and Yelp and they have been removed. I still have the emails from yelp telling me so. I’m trying to let everyone know about a particular dentist who wrongfully/neglected to properly advise/treat my husband for a sore on his tongue during 2 separate 6 month visits. Ultimately it was cancer detected in August 2017 and now he’s deceased April 2018. How fair is it that he gets away with it and I loose my husband.

I think the trick word there is “honest.”

All too often, consumers attempt to extort money or free services or unreasonable discounts from a company under threat of mass postings of negative reviews. I know several business owner friends that this has happened to. Really, it’s extortion and several have filed police reports against the individuals harassing them. These same individuals then share with their friends just a tiny part of the story, prompting much indignation among the friends, who just have no idea what REALLY happened. There are certainly two sides to every story, and if something sounds outrageous, you are probably only being fed parts of the whole story. I usually look at the tone with which a negative review is written. If the writer sounds nuts, I disregard it.

Perhaps people should think carefully before trying to damage the livelihood of a whole company of employees with a negative review. What is your end goal? Are you hoping that nobody will call that company, and the company will go out of business, and all the employees will lose their jobs? Because if that is your goal, perhaps you should consider your OWN sense of morals and ethics. Maybe someone should be writing a 1 star review on YOU for the whole world to see…

really?, , as a hard working homeowner, if you've had a bad contractor type experience, ect., you should by law be able to give a real honest concern, out there for others to watch out for, that's why we need feedback before hiring, and if someone causes you bad problems, , you have everyright to express your concerns , so that others might , reconsider, and if that, 5 star licened ins. , company, should go out of business , so be it, they don't deserve anyones business, its outrageous, to think you can be sued , for being honest, after you've already been wronged., too many , bad irresponsible , , people in business, , , that's why good or bad reviews hardly get written on any business, , and that sucks for the wanting to be informed consumers.

And where can this be reported? A company that started a job, is threatening not to finish the job unless I take down a bad review...

Where do we go to file a complaint? Fitoru erased my honest, negative, nonabusive review and blocked me from facebook and messenger. I would like to file a complaint please.

What about Amazon deleting reviews all over the place based on nothing but a flawed algorithm? Personally I haven't reviewed on there for years but know others who have fallen foul to this. Even when Amazon do confess they were wrong and reinstate reviews the same thing just goes and happens again. So this law means what they are doing is illegal then?

I wrote a review on AT&T after which all my Yelp reviews were shadow banned. So I closed my Yelp account and opened a BBB ticket on AT&T. Free speech or socialism?

I am wondering, does this apply in any way to an online gaming forum, run by the company itself, who has engaged in censorship of negative criticism/feedback for the sole purpose of removing it from their boards? This sort of thing is pretty common among some of the more disreputable development studios. This is kind of a big deal if it is actually a valid use of this act.

So when I was looking for a broker as a new real estate agent I came across the one that had a provision listed on the independent contract agreement. The penalty that the agent has to pay for the removal of any negative reviews online and the expenses for staff efforts to do it, all in order to protect their reputation. Is this even legal? So the agent has to pay for the staff time, actual cost to remove it and the damages the review potentially causes. I decided not to go with this broker, I don’t think this is right. From the years of working in customer service I know customers often have highly subjective opinions on the matters they don’t have a complete knowledge of. If a business has to pay every time for each and every negative comment might as well consider not starting any business. Because in a healthy competitive marketplace there will always be positive and negative experiences regardless of the nature of your business.

We had a client post a bad review. When we we tried to post a reply, the company that the review was posted on, said that we were not allowed to post a reply per their policy. Does this law also protect the freedom of a company to reply to a review? If so what is the process for reminding them of this "Consumer Review Fairness Act"?

Some review platforms allow and encourage businesses to respond to consumer reviews. The CRFA, however, does not require any site to host someone’s review, or to host replies to reviews.

Amazon has deleted thousands of reviews from customers who are "verified purchase", this means the customer is not posting a fake review, they are posting a review for an item they purchased, a genuine review. Amazon ends up making a vague claim based on "violation of TOS or community standards". I believe this is also illegal.

As a follow up to my own comment.....after reaching out to Jeff Bezos of Amazon several times and putting him on notice that I would be filing a formal complaint against Amazon for deleting all my product reviews and banning me from posting future reviews, I discovered today that all my reviews have been restored and I am once again able to post reviews for my purchased products.

I posted a comment a while back regarding how the CRFA is effected if I was paid $1000 when in fact the damages caused me were $6000. I was paid and required to sign a paper stating I would never post negative reviews again.

SO far I have no answer and this is a time sensitive issue for me.

I'm a business owner with a Yelp account. 2 months ago I had 33 five star Yelp reviews and now I only have 17. The ones that are hidden from my business page or five star reviews and I had for one year or longer.. these yelpers have comments on other businesses so why did they drop out of mine? Is it because I'm not paying for advertising?

Add new comment

Comment Policy

Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system (PDF), and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system (PDF). We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.