I run a review site and have recently received a splurge of positive reviews about a certain company on the web site. I'm suspicious and reluctant to post the reviews because they are all coming in at once, which leaves me to believe the company is behind the reviews indirectly.
The reviews are coming from unique IPs and there are certain fields in the review form which I can validate as being actual customers of the company in question. But what I don't know, is if the company created an incentive to get the customers to come to the site and write a review.
All prior reviews about the company are negative, so it is clear to me they are trying to increase their rating on the web site. I don't like when customers are sent to the site in hordes, because it basically comes across as spam to me -- even though the reviews might be from legitimate authors with no incentives involved.
Do I have any legal obligation to post the reviews? Could a disclaimer be put on the site to exempt me from possible legal implications by not posting the reviews?
I use a variety of criteria when it comes assessing the quality of reviews and approving them, and have no plans to diminish the integrity of the site by simply posting anything that comes in. But I would like to know what measures can be taken to ensure maximum protection from a legal perspective.
I often tell my clients that the #1 mistake Corporate America makes is not following their own published rules and proceedures (i.e. TOS).
Do you have a TOS on your site? What does it say about editing reviews?
Be careful here, the more involved you are in editing, the closer you will come to crossing the line and losing your Section 230 safe harbor for what others post.
Finally, IMHO, unhappy customers are more likely to post a negative review if they are unhappy than a happy customer is likely to post a favorable review. I would not find it unlikely, or unfair, if a company that sees a lot of negative reviews on a review site sends out an email to their customers asking them to write a positive review.
As you were able to confirm that the reviews came from customers, I would post them.