Valentine’s Day is coming up and millions of consumers are thinking of the perfect gifts for their loved ones; whether it’s a romantic night out or a special purchase off the internet. Certainly when looking to the internet for that purchase the online reviews help direct the buying power. This creative use of technology is used by almost everyone to determine the best products to buy and the best places to visit. However, one big question remains… are they accurate?
Online reviews are very skewed and not for the reason you may think. Sure, some people are biased, but the problem lies much deeper. Many companies are tech savvy and have an arsenal of legal advisors and marketing gurus working to make sure their products receive the best possible ratings. These teams ensure ratings remain high to keep consumers coming through the doors.
Some of these companies go as far as having employees or other individuals sign contracts prohibiting them from engaging in any critical or negative written, oral or pictorial reviews, effectively taking away their right to free speech and further twisting online reviews.
1) Prohibit or restrict an individual from engaging in written, oral or pictorial reviews, on goods or services (including online reviews);
2) Impose penalties or fees against individuals who engage in review; and
3) Transfer or require the individual to transfer that individual’s intellectual property rights in review or feedback content.
Although it gives back a lot of freedom to the individual, there are limitations in the Act. The Consumer Review Fairness Act will not affect any legal duties of confidentiality; civil actions for defamation, libel, slander; or a party’s rights to establish terms and conditions for creation of photographs, videos, or other such property to be used for commercial purposes, such as TV ads.
At the end of the day, freedom of speech has been reborn for individuals across America, ensuring the right to express genuine thoughts on products and services be it online products or local restaurants, leaving consumers with a more accurate review upon which to rely.