Extortion and Anti-Disparagement Defense
By Ron Lee
Published: 01/17/17 Topics: Vacation Rentals Comments:
Attorneys are supposed to be advocates. journalists are not.
Consumers want to believe that Freedom of the Press gives them permission to say anything and everything they can dream up. However trained Journalists know that fair and balanced reporting is a prime requirement of retaining that freedom.
Yes anyone can publish anything they want without prior restraint from government. But print and broadcast publishers employ tight editorial oversight and fact-checking, along with constant legal review, to avoid being accused of non-factual reporting.
Publishing false or unproven articles can be very expensive for publishers who fail to do their homework, and defamed people will take them to court which is costly and bad for the journalists resume.
Consumers do not care about their reputations because they can often publish anonymously. Some could care less about fairness, blatantly using extortion and now with the help of Elliott.
So when a writer outwardly proclaims he is an advocate for consumers, every word they write must is subject to disbelief. Christopher Elliott's recent article about the contracts that lodging Property's employ to avoid extortion is an egregious.
In a recent article, Elliott incorrectly mixes un-investigated consumer complaints with his own prejudice to conclude that lodging operators should not prohibit consumers from having an unquestioned right to defame Vacation Rentals.
Any ethical journalist would dig in and do the work to at least pretend to examine both sides of the issues.
Many consumers have figured out the game - how to threaten lodging operators with world-wide defamation - and all to get any and every concession their selfish minds can dream up and even for invalid reasons.
Every business has the ability to sue the other in court but doing so is expensive no matter how just their cause. With reviews, the matters appear small but the advent of the internet can results in massive catastrophic consequences for properties even when they are, in no way at default.
So what is a well-run property to do about consumers who extort them with false and misleading reviews?
The use of anti-defamation clauses, or the out-right prohibition of reviews, is just one way that businesses can protect themselves from unscrupulous consumers. Used sparingly and only when consumers are in the wrong and threatening extortion - employing what are essentially confidentiality clauses is just common sense.
Of course nothing protects properties from journalists who make a living by always siding with one party without knowing how to investigate the facts.
Author: Ron Lee – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0482 – 01/17/17
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