Dentist sues over negative Yelp review

by Larry Emmott on January 8, 2010

in Digital Marketing,Internet,Management,Social Media

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.

via Dentist sues over negative Yelp review – SFGate.

I wrote about this in a DPR article.  

angry-woman-2_FullA 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. 

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{ 3 comments }

Melih Oztalay January 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Hello,

I think that any local or small business needs to engage in Local Business Listings. Yelp is only the tip of the iceberg. Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask, City Search, Local.com, and many others are local business listing websites that allow consumers to post commentary about their experience at a business, it’s products or it’s services.

Not embracing social media or these local business listings is a big mistake and hopefully the local and small business can become an early adopter of local business listings. Standing back watching is not really an option and the longer they wait the worse it will get.

As you can imagine a solution already exists for the local and small business. At KillerStartUps a company was recently reviewed providing Local Business Listing Management servers for local and small businesses. You can read up on KillerStartUps perspective of this at:

http://www.killerstartups.com/Search/smartfindslocallisting-com-be-found-online

Although, this will be a time consuming effort for the local and small business to manage their local business listing at multiple websites, this is the first time that the Internet is actually helping the local and small business.

Darrell Pruitt DDS January 9, 2010 at 10:11 am

Emmott, whether one calls DR. Oogle a fad or not, I call it salvation for my practice in these tough economic times. I can tell you from experience that patients who find me on Oogle enter my office already sold on the dentist. That’s hard to beat. I’m losing a lot of new patients to managed care networks, though. It’s still scary.

I would suggest you advise your readers to selectively ask patients to put in a good word or two for the office. If one is destined to get a bad review from a hot-head, it’s much nicer to have a cushion of good reviews under it.

Besides, I’ve never lost a single patient from asking them for the favor of a review.

Larry Emmott January 11, 2010 at 8:33 am

Darrell, Good advice. Like it not in many places social media is a force. Asking patients for a positive review is good but an even better method is to have a system like Sesame or Demand Force do it for you.

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