Consumers are rating everything from medical care to margaritas, leaving businesses unhappy when poor reviews pop up online.
In March of 2017 a new federal law went into effect, protecting consumers from bullying by companies afraid of posted reviews. The Consumer Review Fairness Act was signed by President Obama following bipartisan support in Congress.
According to the Federal Trade Commission: The Consumer Review Fairness Act makes it illegal for companies to include standardized provisions that threaten or penalize people for posting honest reviews. For example, in an online transaction, it would be illegal for a company to include a provision in its terms and conditions that prohibits or punishes negative reviews by customers. (The law doesn’t apply to employment contracts or agreements with independent contractors, however.)
The law protects consumers from retaliation for honest opinions posted online, including on social media. Opinions, including reviews and ratings, of a business’ products, services or conduct are protected. However, the law is not a shield for comments that are libelous, harassing, abusive, obscene, vulgar, sexually explicit, inappropriate or clearly false and misleading. For more information visit the FTC webpage.