BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours has been told that legislation protecting websites from lawsuits is ‘cleansing’ negative comments from online forums.

Companies that threaten Section 5 defamation notices say they are a legitimate defence against false statements. But one forum says they lack the resources to challenge them, and negative comments are being “bleached”.

Section 5 of the 2013 Defamation Act says that a person or company whose reputation has been damaged has to first attempt to sue the person who made the comments, not the website operator. As You and Yours says, while this takes some pressure off hosting websites, one forum claims the orders and rise of online reputation management have unintended consequences – the “bleaching effect”.

The forum administrators claim they, and forum members, have been inundated with Section 5 complaints about posts, with the site having to remove defendable content, and forum posts deleting their own comments because they fear legal consequences.

 

Igniyte’s Managing Partner Simon Wadsworth talked to BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours about this issue. Speaking on the rise of businesses trying to remove negative content, the issue of false statements was discussed. With Section 5 playing a big part in Igniyte’s business, the importance of removing untrue defamatory reviews is essential. Untrue statements give a poor impression of your company and may detract future customers.

Simon Wadsworth comments: “I’ve also heard the term bleaching, and I don’t like it – it suggests you’re sanitising something.”

He added: “If a company genuinely has bad reviews, and you can’t challenge them, then that bad reputation is deserved, isn’t it?” You can read the full article here.

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