Legal Updates

Posting a negative review on a business page on Facebook without actually buying the product or service may be deemed defamation

August 4, 2020

A business owner demanded compensation for defamation from an influential person who invited his followers on Facebook to write bad reviews on a business page after its owner expressed herself on a controversial public issue.
The Court held that the followers who posted the defamatory comments are to compensate but dismissed the lawsuit against the person who persuaded his followers to respond. Under Israeli law, "defamation" is publication that may "humiliate a person in the eyes of others or make him a target for hatred, contempt or ridicule on their part" and may even harm "his business, work or profession". Here, the followers who posted negative comments and gave bad reviews on the business page did not purchase a service from the business owner and therefore this is not a legitimate "consumer review", as it was a negative review on their part made solely due to exposure to the post inviting them to do so. On the other hand, the "soliciting" post did not use an explicit instruction to post defamatory comments, but an invitation to express legitimate criticism, which does not constitute defamation. Therefore, the followers who posted negative and defamatory comments were ordered to pay compensation.