A Washington contractor is suing a Virginia woman for posting scathing reviews online about the contractor's work, according to the Washington Post.
This is one of a growing number of cases alleging Internet defamation. "Lawyers across the country are more aggressively using a combination of legal maneuvers and computer forensics to help uncover the identities of anonymous commentators and sue them," the newspaper reports.
Such lawsuits have the potential of dampening consumer reviews, which can be of great help in today's over-crowded marketplace. Most Internet users want access to unbiased reviews, and we want people to have the freedom to communicate honestly about products and services. But we also don't want individuals or businesses to be falsely accused by someone trying to gain revenge or to settle a score.
One lawyer quoted in the Post had some simple advice for those who post reviews online: Stick to opinion and "tell the truth, and you won't get into trouble."
Let's stress the truth part of that advice. If you tell the truth without conveying a motive of destruction, then you ought to be fine. Of course, if you're not willing to put your name on a review, you probably shouldn't say it.
Jesus said, "I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37)
Those words of advice might also help keep us out of court.