What do you do with threats of libel?


Active member
Some people talk about businesses on my forum and bad experiences with the owners.

I'm quite often getting angry emails saying pretty much delete this thread else I will sue you for libel or saying they will report it to the police.

They're almost always idle threats as there's nothing criminal happening and the police don't even come to vist a shop unless £200+ has been stolen, so the idea that they would be interested in someone online giving their opions on a business is laughable.

But what do you do when this happens? I usually just delete to be safe, but this annoys users and I don't like giving in to the threating toothless emails (who usually just exposes how little they know).

Would the person that wrote the comments be at fault or the person who owns the forum? I never see twitter or facebook themselves held to account of the messages, it's always the person that posted them.
I occasionally get this, especially when someone posts negative comments re a business.
My initial response is for the business to address the points being made/posted and learn from them.
If they're not factual, likewise I invite the complainant to post onto the thread putting their side fo the story up.

In nearly all cases once the complainant stops to think about it they see it as an opportunity to turn things around and often it leads to praise. The ones that can't be bothered, or just make demands, are the ones that cannot run a business in the first place.

My best one to-date was a call from a solicitor acting on behalf of a client who's business had received some bad reviews. Following the introduction and the initial complaint, the next thing the solicitor asked was what were our assets.
My response was to ask him the same question and also that of their client. as any action would be defended vigorously and we would be looking to recover all our costs from them and their client.
I then went on to ask him to tell his client to get their house in order and take heed of the review and work to improve it.

I never did hear anything back
Just mention sites like Yelp, Angie's List or even Google Reviews all sites that have been around for years and the same negative business review information could be easily posted there too. Ask them how many sites are they going to monitor and if they will sue them all?

This is typically a first and last ditch attempt to scare you into making a quick rash decision to pull down the content for fear of reprisal. Most likely the content in question is probably accurate and in turn helpful to other users.

Isn't that what half the internet is ...people complaining about something?
If you are US based....

Summary: if you are an active editor of the content/postings of your forum, then you ARE libel. If you allow contents/posts to remain unedited, then you are not.

I never edit posts, and I ignore the threats of legal action. Always have. My actions (or lack of) are supported by my attorney.
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