A pediatric dentist in Foster City has sued two people over negative comments about her practice that were posted on the review site Yelp, accusing them of libel.
The suit, filed in December in Santa Clara County Superior Court, asks for damages because of the posting, which complained about how Yvonne Wong treated a boy who visited her with cavities.
I wrote about this in a DPR article.
A final distinction, which has already impacted dentists, is accountability. Industrial media is held to account by society for the content and consequences of their activities. Social media, so far, is not accountable for their publishing activities. That means that if someone publishes horrid lies about you on a user review site like Yelp.com there is not much you can do about it.
…Unfortunately social media allows for bad news to travel just as far and fast as good news. It is now common for e-commerce web sites to include user’s reviews. User reviews are found for everything from books on Amazon to hotels at Travelocity and power tools from Home Depot. The most popular review site is Yelp.com which includes a health and medical section. There are also review sites specific to dentistry such as Dr. Oogle.
The April 6, 2009 ADA News featured a long front page article on Dr. Yvonne Wong and how she was caught in a legal battle with Yelp over what she saw as lies and misinformation about her that were posted on Yelp. Dr. Wong’s case is still under review. However the underlying message of the ADA article is that dentists and other professionals are vulnerable to malicious reviews.
There is no direct or effective defense against malicious reviews. However it is a good idea to be aware of what is being said about you on the Internet. Now and then; Google yourself.
Social media and online networking are changes most people didn’t anticipate. Many people, especially non users, don’t understand the fuss and see them as just a fad. On the other hand when real revolutionary change comes it often seems trivial at the time.