Google Review Policy: Can Google reviews be defamatory?

12 April, 2023

5 mins read

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With most consumers turning to online reviews before making a purchase or engaging in a service, your business must maintain a positive online presence. However, even the most reputable businesses can fall victim to defamatory reviews, causing significant harm to your brand.

Google has recently revised its review policy in the United States, which now permits businesses to flag reviews posted on Local Service Ads unless it is a Google verified review.

Google states:

“Reviews for providers found and hired through Local Services Ads include a “Google verified” label. This means that the customer who wrote the review found the service provider through Google.”

While this is a step in the right direction, a significant gap exists in understanding the right process of reporting potential defamatory reviews for Australian businesses. Leaving many businesses vulnerable to false allegations and harmful reviews.

While Google says it can detect inappropriate content, there is still a need for businesses to be vigilant and take action to protect their online reputation.

When is a Google review considered defamatory? 

Under the Defamation Act 2005, an aggrieved person must prove they have suffered “serious harm” by the suggested Google review. Even if a Google review does not mention a person or business by name, it can still be considered defamatory if the review contains specific details that identify the aggrieved person.

However, in Australia, only not-for-profit organisations and businesses with fewer than 10 employees are eligible to take legal action against defamation.

How do trusted Australian businesses safeguard themselves from defamation?

The first step to safeguarding your business from defamatory content online is to regularly monitor reviews by claiming your Google Business Profile.

By professionally engaging with customers, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to customer service and address any issues that may arise.

Additionally, businesses should work on building a strong online presence with quality content and reviews. Regularly monitoring reviews will help to establish your credibility with both customers and Google.

One example of a trusted Australian business that understands the importance of protecting its brand identity online is O’Brien Electrical Bundaberg. By working with Localsearch to build authority through reviews, the team at O’Brien Electrical Bundaberg are able to maintain a professional online presence.

How do I remove defamatory Google reviews?

If your business receives a negative Google review, it is important to respond professionally, addressing the issue and providing evidence to support your claims.

The next step will be to check if the review violates Google’s policies, if it does, you can request review removal.

By taking a proactive approach to address defamatory reviews, businesses can minimise any damage to their online reputation and demonstrate their commitment to customer service.

We recommend that businesses monitor Google’s review policies to protect their reputation and maintain a strong online presence.

Please note that the content above is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. We recommend consulting a qualified legal professional for advice regarding your specific situation. 

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