Reading time: 6 minutes

If you operate a small business, you will likely have established an online presence for the business on various social media platforms and search engines. An online presence is a great way for you to promote your business and any new services you offer. It will also allow you to engage with your customers. Additionally, many social media platforms and search engines will encourage this type of engagement and allow your customers to leave a review; for the good or the bad. Part of operating a business will be receiving and taking onboard positive and negative feedback from customers. This article will detail your options to help address negative online reviews and social media posts including non-legal approaches, and defamation or injurious falsehood.

Resolving the Dispute: A Commercial Approach

Negative social media posts or reviews can have a detrimental impact on your business. Therefore, it is only natural that you will want these removed. Below are a number of practical and simple steps you can take to address the feedback and review.

Report the post or review to the social media platform administrators.

Platform administrators will monitor reviews for inappropriate content, reviews that distort the truth and spam. These types of posts can be removed if reported. However, the administrator is unlikely to remove posts that are truthful but where there is a dispute over the sequence of events.

Contact the customer who posted the review and discuss the feedback.

You can respond to the review from your business account and open a dialogue with the customer. Many online reviews come from keyboard warriors. Therefore, apologising for the experience and offering to address the issue can be a good way to regain control of the situation.

Your response to the review will also show existing and new customers that you took steps to resolve the issue and accepted the feedback. Further, a thoughtful response may improve a reader’s impression of the business despite the bad review.
If a customer is threatening to leave a bad review, consider a commercial resolution.

Knowing that it can be difficult to remove a negative review, you should be open to what the customer is asking for. For example, if a customer is unhappy with the service provided and wants a refund, depending on the value of the service, it may be easier and less costly to provide the refund.

While it may be tempting to balance out the negative review with your own reviews or fake positive ratings, this will likely be a breach of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). As a business owner, you are obligated to ensure that you remove fake reviews because they could be considered misleading.

The above options are steps you can take yourself to put you on track for a cheap and simple resolution. However, sometimes you may come across an issue that you cannot handle yourself. In that case, you may need to consider getting further assistance from a lawyer.

I Want to Get a Lawyer Involved

If someone has left a negative review, you may have legal rights against them. Therefore, depending on the size of your business, you may want to consider a claim of:

  • defamation – provided you have less than 10 employees; or
  • injurious falsehood – if you have more than 10 employees.


To prove a claim for defamation, you will need to show:

  • the matter complained of was published and presented to a third party or made publicly available;
  • your business is clearly identifiable; and 
  • that the conduct was defamatory and would tend to create a bad opinion of your business or damage the business’ reputation.

Injurious Falsehood

To prove a claim of injurious falsehood, you will need to show that:

  • the customer made a false statement regarding your business or services;
  • the statement was published or shared with a third party;
  • the customer made the post or review with malice, meaning they intended to harm your business’ reputation; and
  • there has been actual damage as a result of the review.

If you cannot show the above elements regarding the online post, your claim for defamation or injurious falsehood will likely be unsuccessful. Pursuing these types of claims and getting a lawyer involved can be expensive and time-consuming.  

The Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business

It’s now easier than ever to start a business online. But growing and sustaining an online business requires a great deal of attention and planning.

This How to Start an Online Business Manual covers all the essential topics you need to know about starting your online business.

The publication also includes eight case studies featuring leading Australian businesses and online influencers.

Download Now

Honest Opinion Defence

It is important to note that one of the main defences for defamation is an honest opinion. This means that if the review left by your customer is their genuine experience and their honest opinion, your claim may not be successful. Therefore, you should seek legal advice before pursuing a defamation claim for online posts.

Key Takeaways

There are a number of simple steps you can take to personally resolve or remove the negative review or social media post. Therefore, you will need to consider what the most commercial resolution will be in your unique scenario. Additionally, remember that legal assistance for defamation and injurious falsehood claims for online posts can be costly and time-consuming and may not get you the outcome you want. If you have concerns about any communication that could be defamatory, contact LegalVision’s dispute resolution lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is defamation?

Defamation is available for individuals and small businesses with less than 10 employees. You must show firstly that the matter complained of was published and presented to a third party or made publicly available. Secondly, that your business is clearly identifiable. Thirdly, that the conduct was defamatory and would tend to create a bad opinion of your business or damage the business’ reputation.

What is injurious falsehood?

Injurious falsehood is available for businesses with over 10 employees. Firstly, you must show that the customer made a false statement regarding your business or services. Secondly, that the statement was published or shared with a third party. Thirdly, that the customer made the post or review with malice. Fourthly, that there has been actual damage as a result of the review.


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards