A Glass Half Full? Enduring Small Business Frustrations under the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016

18 Pages Posted: 26 May 2017

See all articles by Lucille M. Ponte

Lucille M. Ponte

Florida A&M University, College of Law

Date Written: May 15, 2017

Abstract

On December 14, 2016, President Obama signed the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (CRFA or Act) into law. This first-of its kind federal law voids contract provisions that seek to prohibit, restrict or penalize online customer reviews. While the CRFA provides valuable and needed protections for online consumer expression, small businesses were still left without new options, outside of costly litigation, to protect themselves from fake negative reviews. This paper will provide an overview of the key provisions of the CRFA, including, what communications are covered, what protections are in place for review sites seeking to effectively police third party postings, and the permissible public and private causes of actions under the new law. This article will address how the Act does little to aid small businesses and recommends self-help remedies, outside of litigation, that should be available to provide assistance to small businesses victimized by social media trolls and bogus negative reviews.

Keywords: Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016, Online Reviews, Speech Suppression, Gag Clauses, Gag Contracts, Social Media, Yelp Law

JEL Classification: K10, K12, K42, D18

Suggested Citation

Ponte, Lucille M., A Glass Half Full? Enduring Small Business Frustrations under the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 (May 15, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2968569 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2968569

Lucille M. Ponte (Contact Author)

Florida A&M University, College of Law ( email )

201 Beggs Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801
United States
407-254-3276 (Phone)

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