Your Snarky Amazon Review Could Get You Sued, So Those Bic 'For Her' Pens Are, Um, Brilliant
Uh-oh — did you know your snarky Amazon reviews could get you sued? That's a takeaway from one guy's recent experience with an Amazon retailer, who threatened to sue him after he left a less-than-glowing review of a product on the site. In his review, the man trashed a router made by Mediabridge Products, saying it was identical to another product offered by a different company and that other, positive reviews of the product were probably fake. Mediabridge then sent him a warning letter threatening legal action if he didn't take the post down.
On Monday, Amazon deleted Mediabridge's account from their site. According to Mediabridge, the user's review was libelous. Here's a piece of the letter Mediabridge apparently sent, which the user originally published but later took down.
Make no mistake, these libelous statements you made in a public forum are false and you cannot support them with any proof.
In the U.S., a person or entity can be found liable for defamatory statements — when they're written or broadcast, they're libel — that are totally false, or published "with reckless disregard" of whether they're false or not. Legally, a person can't be held liable for ridiculous statements that are just obviously untrue. Generally, statements of opinion or "fair comment and criticism" are protected, but much of the legal precedent with regard to libel has to do with publishers, not commenting in the Internet era. Which means, in general, you should be careful about how mean you get in an online review.
Luckily, your favorite Amazon reviews are probably safe, because satire and parody is generally protected under U.S. defamation law. In light of that, here are some of our favorite moments in Amazon review history...
1. The Bic for Her Fiasco
2. The Book About Avoiding Giant Ships
Because you gotta watch out for big ships.
3. The Steering Wheel Desk
Because steering wheels aren't desks.
4. The Milk
Because you can buy milk on Amazon.