Have you ever considered the potential ramifications of what you say online? This isn’t just a matter of saying something of a gossipy nature about a person. It isn’t even about saying things that are negative – not entirely at least. Did you ever stop to think that saying good things about a person/product/service can actually wind up getting you in trouble?
Did you ever stop to think if you can be held legally liable for a good or service that you recommend online? Can someone take you to court and sue you over a recommendation that you provide? The answer is yes – more often than you’d think. It seems that no matter what you say, good or bad, you can be held legally accountable for your words. There are certainly times when such case are ridiculous, but at a higher rate than you may think, courts are upholding that you cant really say anything you want.
In the society that we live in today, everyone seems to be working one angle or another and lawsuits often look like easy money. Spill hot coffee on yourself? Sue the person who sold it to you for damages. Some guy went nuts and flew his plane into the building where your husband worked? Sue the widow for whatever reason you can dream up – logical or not. Your kid bullies another kid at school and gets detention? Sue the violent video game manufacturer you feel made the kid a bully – or even your kid a victim. No matter what it is, there is some bloodsucking, bottom feeding attorney that is willing to sue someone for you.
Whether you want to believe it or not, you can be sued for almost anything. The best course to take is to cover yourself from all angles. If you promote a product, make sure you have a disclaimer saying that you cannot be held responsible for anyone who doesn’t get the results they feel like they are supposed to. There are people out there who will be more than happy to try to sue you because they only lost 11 pounds whereas you lost 14 – for instance.
If you plan to do a considerable amount of reviews, you should look to protect yourself. Have a lawyer help you draft or fully draft up a standard disclaimer saying that what you write is only your opinion. Ensure it says that you cannot be held liable for any harm, physical, financial or otherwise, as a result of someone using a service or product as a result of reading your review. It may not stop an idiot from trying to sue you, but it will stop an idiot from beating you in court.
If you are dispensing medical advice – telling someone that flax seeds are good for cancer is borderline – they could interpret it as meaning you are telling them to stop taking their cancer meds and eat flax seeds instead and they will be cured. (I’m assuming you don’t believe that flax seeds will actually CURE cancer… right? Because that’s just nuts.) The point is however that someone may take that advice or something insane like drinking 30 juiced pumpkins per day to cure dementia. But maybe you do, and so might someone else which is why you have to get friendly with the use of disclaimers.
Also, when it comes to review sites, remember that it is against their TOS in most cases to review a place you have never been or used the services of. That doesn’t stop a guy living in Canada from doing an irate buddy a favor and bashing the car detailing place in Florida, though!