The case of Texas newlyweds whom a court ordered to pay a photographer $1 million after engaging in a social media smear campaign has gotten a lot of attention. The headlines will fade, but the decision could give all businesses—including urgent care centers—cause to take another look at their options if they feel they’ve been wrongfully defamed online. In the Texas case, a newly married couple claimed the photographer was holding their wedding album “hostage” over what they saw as a surprise $125 fee for an album cover. The photographer said their contract specified that the cover was an add-on that cost more money (a fact confirmed in court). The couple vowed to ruin her business by posting negative reviews, then proceeded to do just that. In urgent care, as we’ve discussed here, patient reviews are considered highly influential in either encouraging new patients to visit, or in persuading them to try another provider or avoid urgent care completely. While some reviews are surely accurate, others are probably the result of a patient who simply didn’t get what they wanted (eg, an antibiotic prescription that wasn’t indicated), or who had unrealistic expectations. Now that there’s a precedent for holding online reviewers accountable for their words, operators should pay even closer attention to such posts. If they include erroneous or clearly defamatory claims, it may be necessary to discuss possible legal action with an attorney.
Wronged on Social Media? Maybe There’s Recourse