Libel, Plagiarism and Lawsuits! Oh My! A Warning for Bloggers.
Just another reminder to warn Bloggers about may happen should they irresponsibly slam products, services, or people without clearly stating that this is their original "opinion," and that they are basing this opinion on certain facts and/or research.
Libel: I have written about this before... and no, I'm not an attorney. But, I have come across many blog posts that just slam products without providing the reasoning, facts, or any justified support for their conclusion and certainly without stating that this post "is (my) personal opinion."
I can't tell you how many blog posts I've read that irresponsibly call this or that product a "scam" or a rip-off just to garner readership support trying to win over readers and trying to make them think the blogger is "on their side." Many have falsely labeled products, services and people with careless disregard and without merit. Many do this out of just plain ignorance. Many do this to gain the "shock and awe" value of the traffic that may come from using strong words or calling something a "SCAM" or someone a rip-off artist just because they can. And, yes, "we" collectively have gotten away with it - until now.
Bloggers are not immune to Defamation.
As you may know, Melania Trump, the First Lady Of the U.S., has just settled a few lawsuits that had to do with libelous statements written by a blogger. And, I'm more than sure these types of lawsuits and settlements will happen more and more. So, consider this a "head's up" warning.
Plagiarism: And, while we're looking at legal ramifications for writing untruths or for either ignorance, laziness, or both, let's go over a few practices that may, literally and legally, pick your pocket in the future. Back when you started that blog of yours, did you really make sure that you could use "that" picture? Or, how about those who think that all they need to do is re-write someone else's post and publish it without repercussion? Here's an interesting little post about a blogger's journey.. that ended up costing her approximately $3,000 bucks.
Google Warning: Yes, here's a link to a post about Google and about reviewing "free" products.
FTC Warning: And, here's a little something about the FTC...
So, the bottom line is
Be Informed and Forewarned!
Especially when writing review posts, you have two choices. You can either base your reviews off of extensive and thorough research, or you can purchase the product yourself. There are "some" people who may either ask for and accept free products in order to review them. Some companies even contact bloggers for third party reviews, and may offer the product for free - knowing there's a better chance of a favorable review.
No matter which your route, I always advocate that you provide your reason, method, and how you came to your conclusion. There are, or were, too many bloggers "out there" who are very willing to bash products that may - or may not - actually work in order to appease the negative seekers and earn some cheap traffic. Or, you may be extremely willing to write about a person, or their business offerings - thus, potentially harming the individual, his or her business, or potential future business.
Further, you may have used a picture, a statement, a quote, or a collection of writings and thoughts that did not originate with you. So, be forewarned - All of these scenarios may cost you in the long run. And, if you're in doubt, you'd be wise to check with an attorney who may be able to help you avoid or minimize some pricey legal costs.