I thought it would be helpful to clarify an issue that seems to come up regularly regarding posting negative restaurant reviews on social media. As the admin for a Facebook restaurant review group of over 4000 people, I have done some research on this issue.
Is it permissible to give negative feedback about a restaurant on Facebook or any other social media forum?
The simple answer is, there is no simple answer. So here are some tips on what to consider before you post a negative review on social media:
- make it 100% clear that this is your personal opinion. Statements of opinion are not statements of fact, and so theoretically are protected from libel suits. However, just because you phrase something as a statement of opinion, it does not automatically protect you from a defamation claim.
- the statement should not cause damage to the reputation of the business and/or potential financial damage to the business.
- it is not relevant whether the statement is a deliberate attack on the reputation of the business or person. If the statement results in damage to the reputation of the business or person, then the author of the post could be sued.
- make sure you have evidence to back up your statement.
- do not post anything that could be regarded as incitement to cause harm based on race, religion, ethnic background, gender, sexual preference. This could include derogatory comments about a sect of Judaism or against Sephardi/Mizrachi.
Although laws do vary from country to country, in a court case in the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court in December 2017, the author of a negative statement on Facebook was charged with defamation and had to pay a fine of 18,000 NIS (full story here).
Full disclaimer, I am not a lawyer and none of this is legal advice. The purpose of this article is just to make people stop and think before posting a negative review.