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The Basics: What’s ComplaintsList.com?
Based in Denver, Colorado, ComplaintsList.com bills itself as an “online consumer advocacy and reporting service providing individuals a cost-free and effective platform for voicing complaints, reviews, or reports about a company, business, telephone number, email, person, etc…” Their Facebook page claims they’re an effective and cost-free forum for bringing “justice” and warning consumers and persons of companies and people that should be avoided or approached with caution. However, the reality is ComplaintsList is the one that should be approached with caution and skepticism.
ComplaintsList was founded in 2011 by individuals wanting to channel the power and transparency of the Internet into an accessible and easy-to-use consumer protection resource. With increasingly predatory and unfair business practices that seek to to take advantage of consumers through “false advertising, bait and switch, and generally poor or questionable business practices,” ComplaintsList emerged to combat such injustices and deception.
Although founded upon principles of fairness and transparency, specifically, equalizing consumers and other parties via the Internet, ComplaintsList.com does carry potentially severe consequences for parties, professionals, and businesses. Parties who are attacked with defamatory and false reviews and complaints, risk having false information and statements embedded into the permanent fabric of the Internet forever, ruining their reputation and livelihood.
Defamation Law Fact: The most common defendants in libel and defamation lawsuits are newspapers and publishers, who are two times more likely than television stations to be named as a defendant.
Unfortunately, sometimes all it takes is one false review or post ruin your reputation. Consulting an experienced defamation removal lawyer of Minc, LLC is the right first-step in addressing online defamation and preserving you or your business’s reputation. At Minc, LLC, our defamation removal attorneys employ a strategic and aggressive game-plan to tackle content removal, and will fight for your rights. With extremely high success rates, and all for a flat fee, we are confident in our ability to remove defamatory and false posts and content. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at (216) 373-7706, or schedule an appointment online today.
Defamation Law Fact: The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment was drafted specifically to combat suppression of free speech in order to protect the press. However, it wasn’t until 1964 that the Supreme Court began to rule on libel cases, when they issued an opinion in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, determining public officials should only succeed in a libel suit if they could prove “actual malice” by publishers and reporters.
Who Can Be Named and Reported on ComplantsList.com?
ComplaintsList covers a wide array of subject matter. Although originally started as a website for consumer complaints, it’s now evolved into something so much more. However, that isn’t always a good thing. The site provides submission forms for complaints ranging from consumer complaints about a company, to filing a complaint about a reckless driver. Some other categories include:
- Filing a consumer complaint about a website,
- Filing a complaint about a person,
- Filing a complaint about an email received,
- Filing a consumer complaint about a politician or any other elected official,
- Filing a complaint about a phone call or text message.
ComplaintsList.com allows consumers and other users to post about controversial and taboo topics. Such topics include accusing persons of committing a crime, cheating on a spouse, sexual misconduct, or even having an STD. The site also allows users to post transcripts of phone calls, text messages, and emails. At the end of the day, nobody is safe, or immune from malicious or invasive posts and complaints on ComplaintsList.
Defamation Law Fact: Defamation law covers false statements that attack a person’s reputation. Unbeknownst to many, deceased persons are not classified as having a reputation, and surviving spouses or heirs do not have actionable defamation claims on behalf of a deceased’s estate.
Consequences of Being Maliciously and Falsely Accused on ComplaintsList
Unfortunately, the consequences of having a false or defamatory complaint posted about you on ComplaintsList could be devastating.
- Decreased business: In 2014, MineWhat, an eCommerce Merchandising website, found that roughly 81% of all consumers conduct online research before purchasing a product or service. If your business ranks high in online search results, but the first page shown is a negative review, this could have a significant impact on your business and its reputation. Sometimes, the damage of one post can be irreparable. Customers could lose faith in your business, ending their relationship with you, ultimately causing you to close your doors for good.
- Strained or loss of personal relationships: Not only could a malicious post result in strained friendships or relationships, it could change how your family views you. Defamatory posts have torn families apart, leading to heightened distrust and uneasiness.
- Loss of employment or job opportunities: False and malicious complaints stand to significantly impact your professional reputation, potentially blacklisting you from future jobs or causing you to be let go from your current position. It could also lead to coworkers looking down on you, or disassociating themselves, due to the perceived stigma of whatever wrong you’ve committed.
- Anxiety and paranoia: Emotionally, such attacks could cause you a great deal of anxiety, causing you to lose sleep or become paranoid. Once you’ve been attacked and had your personal life and details broadcasted to the Internet, it’s hard to regain a former peace of mind and sense of security knowing it false and personal information could be spreading further.
Defamation is rarely rational, but often causes victims to become irrational and handle the situation in a poor way. First, understanding that most defamatory and libelous posts are written by people with too much time on their hands, or unjustly disgruntled persons, is an important first step when taking a calm and calculated approach to combat it. Secondly, ComplaintsList.com users are not taking the proper approach for airing their grievances or reporting bad businesses. For example, if an Ohio customer or consumer has a legitimate claim against a business or contractor, they should proceed through the appropriate channels, and file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General, not post it on an unregulated online bulletin board.
Defamation Law Fact: Comment and parody that is so obviously ridiculous and untrue does not constitute libel, slander, or other defamation. It includes such things as irony, exaggeration, humor, and ridicule, all used as an important form of social and political commentary.
Key Issues with ComplaintsList.com’s Approach to Crowdsourced Reviews
Like most user-generated content bulletin boards, ComplaintsList opens themselves up to rogue posters attacking others online and spreading false information. Below are two key issues with ComplaintsList.com’s approach to vetting and posting crowdsourced reviews and complaints.
- They don’t require verified accounts before posting a complaint: Although ComplaintsList.com does require personal information of the party making the complaint, it doesn’t actually require verified personal information. For instance, a user can file a complaint by inputting falsified personal information, as all that is required is first and last name, the rest of the information is voluntary. Sites that link a complaint to a social media profile or other authoritative and verified account are more trustworthy, and decrease the likelihood of false malicious reviews or complaints.
- There is no way to prove the information is false: Unverified accounts can lead to unverified information. Anonymous reviews and profiles translate into a false sense of security for users, as they know there are likely no repercussions for stretching the truth or lying. When users know their posts are unregulated and unchecked, the likelihood of malicious and defamatory complaints increases exponentially.
ComplaintsList.com’s unverified review system has turned their platform into a “Wild West” of consumer and personal reviews, creating a higher likelihood you or your business’s reputation or future is threatened.
Defamation Law Fact: In 2014, a Ninth Circuit Court determined that bloggers who post libelous content about private citizens, but concerning public matters, should only be sued and found guilty if they act negligently.
Major Flaws with Their Approach to Content Removal
ComplaintsList.com claims to have a dispute rate of 4%, and that they take removal of false and defamatory content very seriously. However, following their claim of low dispute rates, they state, “it would be simply impossible to enforce as we are in no position to make a judgment on the accuracy of what users submit.”
Most importantly, ComplaintsList does not guarantee the removal of offensive and defamatory content, leaving injured and defamed parties confused and uncertain as to their reputations’ future.
Additionally, they broadcast their immunity and protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which provides immunity for interactive computer services which publish information by third parties. The CDA makes it difficult for injured parties wanting to bring suit against a website where defamatory information is published and leaves only one channel open for recourse; bringing suit against the individual poster. Uncovering the identity of the malicious poster can be an arduous and time-consuming process, so it’s best you consult an experienced removal attorney.
Defamation Law Fact: At the federal level, the United States does not have any criminal defamation laws. However, since 2005, twenty-four states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have drafted and implemented criminal defamation laws. You can check to see if your state is one of the seventeen to have executed criminal defamation laws here.
Injured parties who want to remove defamatory or false content are presented with two options;
- Dispute a complaint, or
- Respond to a complaint.
As of writing this (12/17/2017), ComplaintsList’s “dispute a complaint” option redirects users to a missing page. However, in the past, the site stated they wouldn’t even consider assisting in disputing a claim unless the disputing party pays a fee of almost $500. Reaching out to an experienced defamation removal attorney is highly recommended in order to formulate an effective takedown game-plan and strategy.
Their “respond to a complaint” option allows persons to respond to a posted complaint only if “their name has been mentioned on the site or by people who own or represent a company that has complaints filed against their company on the site.” Similar to the inadequate vetting procedures for posting a review, ComplaintsList’s response form fails to establish proper verification procedures, allowing malicious users to also post false responses to an already negative review.
ComplaintsList.com is also considered an authoritative website, making it harder for an injured party to completely remove defamatory and malicious information from the Internet.
ComplaintsList Considered Authoritative
Ahrefs, an online marketing research tool and SEO backlink checker, provides a snapshot of the website authority and referring links. Comparable to a book citation, a backlink is a link from another website to a web resource (website, web page, or web directory).
The higher the domain rating, the more authority and visibility it commands from Google, meaning it’s much likelier to appear higher in online search results. According to Ahrefs, ComplaintsList.com has a strong domain rating of 51/100 and almost 2,200 referring domains (including the Better Business Bureau), affirming its position as a highly visible and entrenched domain in the consumer review world.
Simply put, once something is so deeply ingrained in Internet backlinks, it can make it difficult to remove.
Defamation Law Fact: United States defamation law is often regarded as less plaintiff-friendly than European and other Commonwealth countries, due to European and Commonwealth jurisdiction’s stance that every publication of defamation gives rise to an independent claim, allowing a plaintiff to sue in any country where the defamation was read.
Work With Effective Online Defamation Removal Lawyers to Remove Defamatory Content
ComplaintsList.com’s website authority and popularity poses severe and long-lasting consequences if you or or business has been defamed or maliciously attacked. Doing nothing is not an option. Don’t risk your reputation and livelihood due to one false complaint.
Confronting defamatory and false complaints online poses many hurdles and challenges for an injured party, therefore, it’s important to approach it in a strategic manner. Aaron Minc, a Northeast Ohio-based Internet defamation removal attorney at Minc, LLC, and his team of Cleveland attorneys, will work with you to address, confront, and remove any defamatory or offensive online content. To schedule a free confidential consultation, call him at (216) 373-7706, or contact him online.